Town council gets the lowdown on dust control measures
April 9, 2019 meeting
Your Leader reporter was late (again) for the 1:00 p.m. Committee of the Whole meeting of council last week. Walking in at about a quarter past the hour, we heard town project manager Doug Baird say: “It’s very difficult and could be very costly.”
What exactly he was referring to we’re not sure, but it did have something to do with water lines.
Council had a bit of a primer on dust control. Doing the honours was operations director Calvin Couturier.
Slave Lake has 17 kilometres of gravel roads, he told council. The only road that isn’t treated is the one to the new cemetery. Otherwise, the procedure is to get the calcium down after the frost comes out of the roads. This of course is never as soon as people would like, since it usually gets dusty well before that.
If you do it too early, Couturier said, “you lose your calcium.” And it isn’t cheap, at about $25,000.
The practice is once the frost is out, the roads are “dressed,” meaning graded and re-crowned. Then about half of them are re-gravelled. Once that is done, the dust control application goes ahead – usually sometime in June.
A little-known fact shared by Couturier is that frost under roads is deeper than elsewhere; apparently that’s due to the effect of traffic, “pounding it down.” Not only that, roads in Slave Lake are constantly sinking into the “lake bottom,” material that’s the town is built on.
Back alleys do not get the dust control treatment. They don’t get much treatment of any kind. Adding gravel is avoided, Couturier said, because the alleys in some cases are already higher than back yards, preventing water from running out of them.
“We have a couple – to drain them we’d have to take off a foot-and-a-half of our base.”
Still on the subject of alleys, councillor Julie Brandle asked about an experiment in one of them involving a new material that is supposed to seal the top into something resembling concrete. She asked Couturier about it. It seems to be working fairly well, he said, but it’s too soon to be sure. And it’s quite expensive. But if it does work as advertised, it could be a solution for some troublesome spots on gravel roads.
Councillor Ferguson asked if the new treatment would work at a spot in Gloryland that has caused a lot of headaches over the years. It’s the wrong sort of material, said Couturier. It would have to be dug up and rebuilt with the right stuff.
Garbage in the ditch
Councillor Darin Busk brought up the matter of some newly-exposed trash in the ditch along Hwy. 88. Apparently hazard-reduction burning along there has revealed an unsightly mess. Whose responsibility is it to clean that stuff up? He asked.
If it’s a green space, said Couturier, that would be the town’s parks people. If it’s in the highway right of way, it’s Alberta Transportation’s jurisdiction (although in practice, community volunteers would be the only ones to clean it up).
The town’s community clean-up week this year runs in the second week of May.
Short-term borrowing for big projects
Council did the necessary and passed the bylaw required for borrowing money to pay for costs incurred in the sewage lagoon renovation project last year. This is the $14.1 million project that became necessary when government standards on effluent got tougher a few years ago. All the dirt work going on east of Hwy. 88 is part of or a result of the project.
Six million dollars of the cost comes in the form of grants from the provincial and federal governments. The rest is borne by the town, by way of borrowing. It’ll be paid back over a number of years, with taxpayers getting tagged monthly as a result.
The amount approved for borrowing was $3.1 million.
In a separate motion, council approved the removal of $1.8 million from reserves to help pay for the above-mentioned project and for the raw water line.
Mayor Warman asked about sweeping of grit off lawns and sidewalks. It’ll start when the lawns have dried off sufficiently, he heard. Some are dry, but not all the shady ones. Doing it when it is dry reduces the likelihood of damage to the lawns, but it also means it’s very dusty work.
How it usually works is the small brush goes ahead, sweeping all the loose material onto the street. Following is the big sweeper to clean it up off the street. It would obviously be quite helpful if vehicles were not parked on the street when it is happening.
Warman also asked if line painting is happening and when. Yes, and probably the end of June, was the answer. It tends to be done in conjunction with crack-sealing. First the crack-sealing, then the painting.
Visitor Info Centre
The town and M.D. are working out the details on how the Visitor Information Centre is to be run. Three students have been hired to man the place for the season.
Warman noted in his report the tenant at the VIC has moved.