Councillors tour major west end county projects

Wetaskiwin County councillors and staff were given a bus tour of major projects taking place in the west half of the county...

County of Wetaskiwin development officer Jarvis Grant explains to councillors and staff during a county tour what Environmental Reserve land is supposed to look like when landowners do not develop the shoreline.

Wetaskiwin County councillors and staff were given a bus tour of major projects taking place in the west half of the county on June 16. Two-part tours are held annually to keep councillors up to date and knowledgeable of projects and issues, enabling them to make informed decisions during their meetings.

The tour included 12 stops, mainly highlighting construction projects within the county.

Covenant Bay Bible Camp

Councillors were given a drive-by view of the Covenant Bay Bible Camp, which was recently granted rezoning from agricultural district to recreational district for the purpose of upgrading camp buildings.

However, access to the camp’s property is through the Summer Village of Poplar Bay. The summer village had concerns if a larger facility was added to the septic line serving residents in the area it may overwhelm the system. Councillors were informed an annexation of the land may have to be considered in the future if access becomes an issue.

Battle Lake Trail upgrades

The historic Battle Lake Trail is in need of major upgrades as unstable banks and springs under the road continue to damage the infrastructure.

On one side of the road are steep, unstable banks that cannot be disturbed due to root and tree cover and on the other side drops into Battle Lake. Despite the damage underground springs cause, the road upgrades are the only course of action because of the tight space and proximity to the water.

A Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant donation of $500,000 will pay for the upgrades to be completed this year. “This is a really old road One of the first in the county,” said Brian Anderson, assistant director of public works.

Greystones on the Lake Environmental Reserve

On the banks of Buck Lake, councillors were shown what environmental reserve land is supposed to look like and what happens to it after development.

The county would prefer environmental reserves and shoreline be left in a natural state but find more often landowners manicure the shore and take out the reeds in the shallow water. As this happens the county will intervene and request a cease of activity. “For the most part people seem to be compliant and it’s just a lack of knowledge,” said county development officer Jarvis Grant.

If requested and approved, landowners may construct a footpath three metres wide through the environmental reserve. Fifteen metres from the shore inward is environmental reserve and six metres into private property landowners are not supposed to clear trees. “That gets a little harder to enforce,” said Grant.

Buck Lake Boat Launch

A boat launch is proposed for construction within an existing road allowance, located on the south side of the Buck Lake Campground.

Geoff Lynch, director of leisure and community services, says before any work can be done in the water permits and environmental studies are needed. Challenges the project would face are parking issues and the shallow waters. “You’d have to do some dredging,” said Lynch.

Construction costs are expected to range from $100,000 to $200,000, possibly less if the work is done by a local company.

Washout Creek

Washout Creek bank faces erosion problems and councillors were treated to the site of a collapsed bank.

Part of the issue is a culvert that was not installed properly. “The culvert is actually caving in upon itself. That’s why it’s one of our top picks for replacement,” said Dave Dextraze, director of public works.

“There’s a lot of drainage coming though here, it’s just the instability of the banks. So we’ve got some very costly repairs,” he added.

Erosion repair has been tendered at $96,000. Culvert replacement is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $1 million; the 2016 budget earmarked $90,000 for engineering and design with culvert replacement scheduled for 2017.

Alder Flats Lagoon Expansion

The Building Canada Fund has approved $2.9 million for a two-phase expansion of the Alder Flats Lagoon.

Phase 1 is the expansion of the lagoon and is scheduled for 2016. Phase 2 is a wastewater collection system east of the hamlet boundary, planned for 2017.

“Right now we’re at full capacity, if not past it,” said Dextraze. With the expansion the lagoon will be able to treat two to five times more waste.

Winfield

The tour made a number of stops in Winfield, including the newly finished emergency coordination centre and the Winfield Area, which is having is ice surface floor and boards replaced.

Councillors were shown a damaged manhole, which is collapsing due to tree roots pushing on the structure.

A grant of $200,000 funded through the Federal Gas Tax will will help the more than 20 manholes needing fixing.

Winfield is also scheduled for a road rehabilitation project, with a budget of $610,000. The project was awarded to Ant Construction for $467,020.

“Winfield’s always been a challenge because of the springs,” said Dextraze. “Winfield’s going to be a hotbed of activity,” he added.

Councillors were given a drive by of an “unsightly” property in the hamlet. They were told the issue is ongoing and county peace officers are not well received by the property owner. A cluttered yard, a goose in an area not zoned for it and a pig’s head on a stake have all been part of the problem.

Battle Lake Radio Tower

The nearly complete Battle Lake radio tower project is 250 feet high, 50 feet taller than the old tower it replaced.

The tower is an integral part of communications for the four west fire departments and the public works department. Council was told the project came in under budget and is digital for better performance.

Black Bull Golf Resort

Development of an RV Park at the Black Bull Golf Resort is underway. The developer has replaced and upgraded many underground services to suit the park’s re-configuration and a new shower house is included in the project.

The resort is abandoning its service road access and a new access will be located on Range Road 1-1, allowing for proper setback from highway 13 traffic.

Dorchester Ranch/Black Bull Road

Dorchester Ranch RV and Golf Resort has deep utilities installed in the first phase of its project. Water treatment plans are being finalized.

The first mile of Black Bull Road, south of Highway 13, has been re-aligned and widened. The remaining two and a half miles will be finished to a pre-pavement standard by the end of the 2016 season.

Ditching and approached along Range Road 1-1 is partially complete.