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Regulator won't review decision to reject proposed feedlot near popular Alberta lake

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Cattle roam in a filed near Pigeon Lake, Alta., on May 1, 2022. An Alberta regulator says it won't review its decision to reject a proposed cattle feedlot near a popular recreational lake. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON — An Alberta regulator has turned down a request to review its decision rejecting a proposed cattle feedlot near a popular recreational lake. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Board said in a ruling released Thursday that there's no reason to revisit the August decision, which denied a permit for the 4,000-head feedlot near Pigeon Lake, about 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton. 

"The board finds that the approval officer adequately dealt with all issues raised in the applicant’s filed request for review and that the issues raised are of little merit," the letter says. 

Greg Thalen of G&S Cattle had argued that the board's original decision depended too heavily on research conducted by the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association without confirming those conclusions for itself. As well, he maintained most of the association's members have no legal standing before the board.

Opponents feared the impact of more cattle manure on the lake, which is fed only by runoff and struggles with summertime algae blooms despite improvements to area sewage treatment and fertilizer management. 

Pigeon Lake has about 5,800 seasonal and permanent residents and attracts about 100,000 visitors a year.

Although Thalen can appeal to the courts, grounds for an appeal are restricted to errors in law or jurisdiction and may not address arguments for or against the feedlot.

The board is required by law to decide within 10 business days if it will review a ruling. Because of that tight timeline, reasons for its decision on the review are not released immediately.

"The board will issue the full decision report with its reasons within the next two weeks," said board spokeswoman Janet Harvey. 

When the feedlot was first proposed, the board — which typically receives only a few letters of concern about proposed projects — received hundreds of objections from individuals, summer villages, Indigenous communities and other organizations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press