Tips on Preparing
Your Written Statement
What can I say
in my written statement to Alberta Environmental Protection about development
in Winchell Coulee?
Your written statement should focus on water resource
issues. The hydrology of Winchell Coulee is complex and poorly understood.
The impacts of water diversion/drainage activities in the Coulee range
from the diminished water quality and flow rate of streams that originate
in the Coulee to problems with local domestic water wells.
Your written submission can also highlight the impacts
of development on wildlife and fish habitat in the Coulee. Alberta has
laws to protect habitat. It is within the jurisdiction of Alberta Environmental
Protection to consider habitat destruction.
Dorothy Majewski, Department of Fisheries and
Oceans at 501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, R3T 2N6 (ph:204-983-5045,
The federal government is also very concerned about
the harmful destruction, disruption or alteration of fish/wildlife habitat.
If your concerns are about habitat you should c.c. your written statement
to the following individuals who have already been contacted and are aware
of development issues in Winchell Coulee:
Shauna Mercer, Environment Canada, Regional Services
at #200 4999 98th Ave, Edmonton T6B-2X3 (ph: 403-951-8860, fax:
In your submission to Alberta Environmental Protection
you need to ask the question of what next? Mr. Stewart wants to divert
water out of the Coulee for a reason. You are entitled to know that reason.
Ask for it! Request a full disclosure of Mr. Stewart’s future plans for
the Coulee at a public forum/hearing. Your written statement should also
request that a full environmental assessment be undertaken on Mr. Stewart’s
plans for the Coulee before any permits are issued for road building
and water diversion.
Here is additional information
to help you develop your statement:
The Winchell Coulee lands were designated
as environmentally sensitive early in the 1980’s. A large portion of the
Coulee including Winchell Lake is designated as environmental reserve under
the Municipal Government Act and was provided to the County of MountainView
for this purpose by local property owners. This fact should have been researched
by the new owner, and proper precautions should have been taken to minimize
environmental disturbances in the course of development. Historically,
very little environmental disturbance has been introduced into the Coulee,
either by the subdivision process, or by the grazing operations which have
been active in recent years.
Some controversy and uncertainty exists
as to the degree of spring flow exiting the west end of the Coulee through
the bog, or that is sustained in Stoney Creek. More recent survey work
suggests that most of the flow exiting Winchell Lake, and the pond west
of the lake enters the Stoney Creek flow. This uncertainty justifies an
appropriate study to accurately determine where the waters are flowing
prior to issuing any environmental permit(s). This study should include
estimates of the flow volume through the bog area bounded by property limits
Because the new owner is considering
stripping the peat resource from the bog, and creating an additional pond
area along the Coulee, full disclosure of these plans needs to be made
public before any permits are issued. Such an undertaking will be
complex, and will drastically affect water levels in the existing natural
lake and ponds. Its is likely that a competent dyke will need to be constructed
to the base of the bog to effectively control flow of the water This will
be a very costly and intrusive procedure. The value of the peat resource
and the need for an additional pond area in the Coulee need to be considered
by Mr. Stewart and by Alberta Environmental Protection in light of its
impact on the entire Coulee area.
The above 4 points illustrate the need
for a detailed environmental review of the area prior to the issuance of
any environmental permits. To this point, all developments appear disjointed
and poorly thought out. This has created enormous concern and animosity.
Consequently, differences need to be resolved in practical fashion with
all of the necessary study and patience required for a long-term comprehensive
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Environmental disturbances already
introduced by Mr. Strewart need further attention by Alberta Environmental
Protection. It appears as though established fish habitat has been wiped
out with the destruction of a number of beaver ponds and the draining of
extensive established pond area which was inhabited by Brook Trout, Brown
Trout, and Rainbow Trout. Kingfishers which were present in that area have
now left, as have numerous waterfowl species which have traditionally nested
in the area. These changes require full environmental review and the issuing
of a permit. The stripping of the hillside near the east boundary of Mr.
Stewart’s property has created extensive muddy water flow to enter the
Coulee flow during heavy rain, and at least two domestic water wells have
produced murky water during these periods (no previous history of the same).
The hilltop which has been stripped was an established birthing area for
whitetail deer and would have been left alone by an environmentally conscious