M.D. council debates strategy for hiring gravel haulers

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

M.D. transportation director Bill Klassen had a proposal for how to handle the M.D.’s gravel-hauling work this year at council’s Apr. 26 meeting. It’s a bigger job than usual, and councillor Robert Esau had asked an earlier meeting if the M.D. could stick with local haulers it had been using. Against this was councillor Brad Pearson’s preference for not hiring haulers on a per-hour basis.
Klassen presented five scenarios, entitled ‘Local Hourly,’ ‘Open Hourly,’ ‘Price Per Tonne Per Km.’, ‘Price Per Tonne Supplied and Delivered,’ and ‘Set Price.’ All have their pros and cons. Klassen did not recommend one over the others, but he did warn that the lowest price sometimes ends up costing more.
“We can set a price, put it out there and anyone that wants to work for that price can make themselves available,” he suggested.
“Price per tonne per kilometre is the fairest way and the best for the M.D.” said Pearson.
“It’s not that simple,” said Klassen. “The cost of supervision will save you far more than what you’re trying to cheap your way through. It’s never as simple as throwing somebody in a loader and sending the trucks out to dump it somewhere.”
“I think we want to invite local companies to bid on this,” said councillor Brian Rosche.
CAO Allan Winarski suggested the M.D. could “do a bit of both,” meaning the traditional direct hiring of local haulers at the hourly rate and a competitive bid portion.
The M.D. plans to re-gravel 232 kilometres of roads this year, including 50 per cent of the roads in the Flatbush area.
“How about into Assineau?” asked councillor Pearson.
“Not this year,” said Klassen.
“They’re complaining about it,” Pearson said.
“They’re complaining about all the roads,” said Klassen. He added that from what he’s seen, despite the problems, M.D. roads are better than those in neighbouring counties, including Big Lakes and Westlock.
Notwithstanding that, there are sections of road that need work, said councillor Garry Horton. That includes a small piece of Ranch Road that he had seen.
“My car could hardly get through,” he said.
Speaking of bad sections, Horton said the East Fawcett Road has a stretch badly in need of gravel.
“I’ve put more salt and pepper on my eggs,” he said.
Back to the matter at hand, Esau wasn’t happy with any of what had been proposed, as far as hiring haulers.
“The options you laid out – not one of them would work,” he said, and proposed council continue the discussion in camera. Council did that, spending half an hour on the subject behind closed doors. The resulting motion by councillor Pearson was as follows: ‘direct administration to advertise at a specific rate set per loaded tonne/km (MD-loaded) and that long-term loyal contractors have priority upon response to call for work.’

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