M.D., province each thought it belonged to the other guy
It turns out the first kilometre or two of the East Mitsue Road belongs to nobody. The M.D. thought it belonged to Alberta Transportation and AT thought it belonged to the M.D. In need of pavement repairs, the M.D. has been looking into it and came up with the startling news that it isn’t even registered as a road!
In a background report for council at its Sept. 27 meeting, M.D. transportation manager Bill Klassen said the M.D. has been plowing and sanding the section of road, but not repairing it. Alberta Transportation has been ignoring it altogether. Apparently the ownership issue fell through the cracks around the time of the transition from the old Improvement District to the current M.D. in 1996.
Unregistered and ownerless as it may be, it’s in need of repair, and it looks as if the M.D. is left holding the bag.
“We have some mills that are starting to pay the price,” Klassen told council. “Somebody has to take ownership of it.”
Councillor Brad Pearson, observing that it would cost “a bit of money,” to repair it, suggested lobbying Transportation for the money.
“They have no interest in it,” said Klassen.
“How much?” asked councillor Mike Skrynyk.
Klassen said he didn’t have a number yet.
“We need to get it done,” said Skrynyk. “Then some political lobbying.”
The M.D. owns the rest of the East Mitsue Road, up to the industrial park. The section with no owner also extends south of the highway for about the same distance.
Councillor Brian Rosche noted that it is heavy industrial traffic doing the damage. Should the M.D. have to pay the whole shot?
“It’s a challenge,” said CAO Allan Winarski. “You need industrial traffic. Are you raising enough in non-residential taxes?” Another consideration: “industrial traffic sweetens your argument for resource road grants.”
Also, Winarski continued, there are road-use agreements, another way by which industry contributes to the upkeep of M.D. roads.
Councillor Mike Skrynyk agreed: “Industry pays a lot of taxes and they have to be able to operate.”
The province needs to step up more to help keep resource roads healthy, Skrynyk said.
Council passed two motions on the matter. One was to apply for permission to do repairs on the road (since it is unregistered it belongs to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry); the other was to mount a lobby, through the MLA, to get provincial funding for the work.
The ownerless and unregistered section of road appears in yellow. Slave Lake Pulp upper right.