March 27, 2019 meeting
Road extension request
Council discussed a request from a property owner to have the M.D. extend an M.D. road by 800 metres. This would give him road access to several quarter sections of farmland in the area of Tieland Road.
The applicant, who was present, bought the land in 2015 and for three years has been getting to his land over a neighbour’s field.
“I’m making a mess,” Martin Perpar told council. “He’s not very happy.”
M.D. policy accommodates such requests. It says “council may approve its construction on a cost-sharing basis,” up to $20,000.
Council also heard the estimated cost to build a road to the minimum standard (Class 5) would be about $83,000. That would leave Mr. Perpar with the rather hefty sum of $63,000 as his share.
Councillor Robert Esau had another idea. After ascertaining that the applicant does not live on the property and doesn’t plan to, he asked administration if a lesser standard of road would be possible, so as to reduce the cost. A Class 6 road doesn’t actually exist in the M.D. standards, but in practice it has been approved in at least one situation.
Esau’s idea is to build the road to that lesser standard, with the option of upgrading it if anybody decides to build a home on it. He made a motion to that effect. The matter is to be considered in the 2020 budget year.
New John Deere grader
Council approved the replacement of a ‘miled-out’ grader in the 2019 budget. It went out to tender, with both Brandt and Finning making bids. Taking several factors into consideration, the John Deere unit was considered better than the Caterpillar. It was $48,000 cheaper, for one thing. But that wasn’t the only thing.
“I like that we have a Brandt repair here,” said councillor Jeff Commins.
“That’s a key determinant,” said director of transportation Bill Klassen. “He’s come in on his holidays.”
M.D. graders are usually traded in after five years or 7,500 hours, at a guaranteed price. Finning will pay $149,000 for the unit being replaced.
On a related note, the M.D. has five graders in operation. Klassen said when he started there were seven. He’s been doing some figuring and says with 650 kilometres of road to take care of, five should be able to do the job.
“We’re providing a good service level with five graders,” he said. “We’d hurt ourselves if we went less.”
Marten Beach flood update
The effort to get something done in the flood mitigation line continues. Representatives of a group in Marten Beach are working towards action on that file presented the latest to council. The news isn’t great.
“We applied for a grant for $48,000,” said Randy Ross. “They said it’s not a priority.”
Efforts to meet with the MLA haven’t borne fruit, he added.
The group has been in touch with an engineering firm, Ross continued, which will do a proposal on mitigation measures.
“What would be the priority work?” asked councillor Brad Pearson.
Creating ‘water holds’ upstream is one, Ross said. Log-catching devices and straightening are two others that have been discussed.
“There’s going to have to be some bank stabilization,” said Norm Seatter.
Ross noted that some of the debris from the last flood has recently been removed, and residents appreciate it. Klassen said removal of the pile by the bridge is out for tender.
Two local dealerships bid on an M.D. tender for the provision of seven pickup trucks for the fleet. One couldn’t deliver the three-quarter ton units until the fall. Its price for the four half-tons was about $15,000 more than Slave Lake Chrysler, which was the recommended choice. Council voted 5 – 1 in favour of that, with councillor Esau opposed.
Esau’s opposition had something to do with a fleet scheme that had been presented at a Rural Municipalities Association conference that suggested a better deal was available for pickups. His idea was to defer the decision until that option had been investigated.
“We’ve looked into it,” said Klassen.
“There’s a bunch of moving parts,” said Winarski.
“It becomes fairly onerous,” said Klassen.
Another thing to consider, Klassen pointed out, is if you go elsewhere for vehicle deals, “You impact your local businesses too.”
“You can lose those dealerships in a heartbeat,” said Winarski, citing the case of the Crowsnest Pass, which he said lost several car dealerships.
RFP on the LUB, ASAP!
Things had moved along so well in his recent absence, Winarski told council, he predicted the RFP on the LUB would be going out ASAP. That would be the request for proposals on the Land-Use Bylaw, as soon as possible.
“The team has advanced a whole bunch of projects,” he said. “It’s amazing what they’ve cleared off.”
FireSmart by grazing?
Winarski told council Ag Fieldman Barry Kolenosky is looking into the possibility of vegetation management by livestock, as an alternative to other forms of wildfire hazard reduction. The idea would be to turn cattle (or perhaps other grazing beasts) out in areas near towns or hamlets to keep the grass down.
“He’s getting some buy-in from some provincial departments,” said Winarski.
Utilities people to the rescue
The M.D. utilities team has been facing a crisis or two lately and have stepped up to the plate.
“I can’t say enough about these guys,” Winarski told council. “We had a catastrophic failure of the membranes (at the Canyon Creek water plant?) and they took care of it.
Meanwhile, a distribution pump at the wastewater treatment plant is on the verge of failing. Winarski said he’d taken the liberty of ordering a new one, though it was not in the budget.
“It could fail at any time,” he said.
The new pump costs $43,000.
“It will take five or six week,” Winarski said. “If it fails in the meantime we have fire pumps for back-up.”
Hope for Hwy. 2?
Councillor Pearson again brought up the rough condition of Hwy. 2 through the area. Was a letter sent to the province about it? It will be, said Winarski.
The M.D. has been in touch with Alberta Transportation as a matter of course in any case. The department “has been getting back to us, with well-thought-out responses,” said Klassen. “There is hope.”
Bypass in Chisholm approved
Permission from the government has finally come through for an alternate access to an M.D. gravel pit near Chisholm. Access had been through private property, which was not the ideal situation.
“It gives the public a way around as well,” said Klassen.
Construction of the bypass is not in the 2019 budget.
Info session for seniors
The M.D. is sponsoring a seminar for area seniors on what sort of financial supports are available and how to get them. It’ll be at the hall in Smith on Tuesday, May 28, starting with lunch at noon and running from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The M.D. is providing busing from Flatbush and the Southshore area to and from the event.
Presenting the report to council, Peggy Laing said pre-registration is required. To do that, call her at 780-681-3929 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.