County of Wetaskiwin council finished up its annual two-part tour of major county projects and issues with a tour of the east portion of the county on June 23.
Council’s first stop was to look at an example of substandard approaches that have been created to add access to property without county approval. Many have below par drainage systems or none at all.
International Raceway development update
With several large construction projects underway at the raceway, including bleachers and a sound barrier, the development permits are now all in place.
Development officer Jarvis Grant informed council one to two years ago development started that posed safety concerns. “All the buildings are now in compliance.”
Hilgartner Gravel Pit/Graves Gravel Pit
Council and county staff visited two gravel pit sites during the tour.
At the Hilgartner Gravel Pit, council was informed what the future of the site looks like. “When we develop them we have a reclamation plan in mind,” said public works director Dave Detraze. Work at the pit will be finished in 2029.
“We will be looking to reclaim everything we can so it will be arable and put back into farm production,” said Dextraze.
The Graves Gravel Pit was a deal coined in 2000 to pay for the resource beforehand rather than pay for the gravel as it is crushed.
What happens to a pit once it is no longer utilized for gravel is a priority of the county and part of the pit has already been reclaimed into an aquaculture trout farm which produces for high end restaurants.
Sled dog kennel operation
A property that applied for a sled dog kennel status with a maximum of 60 dogs has posed some challenges for the county and surrounding landowners. The property is now under several stipulations including cutting the number of animals down to 30 by May 31, 2017. “Some of the concerns at the time were smell and barking,” he added.
Branco dirt bike trail
The tour stopped along the road at the site of the controversial Branco dirt bike trail. The situation of the unauthorized development came to the attention of council after unhappy neighbours made complaints the track was not used for private family use only.
With no permits and being built on agriculture zoning, the county has placed a stop action on the track.
Following council’s refusal to rezone the land the decision has been appealed; the family is looking to use it privately. However, Grant say administration would have trouble regulating the track if it were under personal use.
“Even for personal use I don’t know why anyone needs a track that large,” said Grant. “It does encroach somewhat to the north.”
Robot milking operation
Josh Van de Kraats opened the doors of his dairy farm to the councillors and county staff to show off his automated milking operation.
Prior to 2008 Van de Kraats operated using a 64 tie-stall barn. “In 2008 I had the desire to build a new barn.”
By bringing in an automated milking robot, Van de Kraats and the machine are able to do the work of two people as well as milk the cows more often.
Introducing the system to his farm changed the design of the barn to a guided traffic barn with bedding on one side and a feeding alley on the other. The automated milking system sits at the end of the both alleys and the animals can only move through the barn in one direction. “My objective building the barn itself was cow comfort,” said Van de Kraats.
Van de Kraats says with the automated milking system he spends less time working on actually milking the cows and more time managing them. “The idea with automated milking is not less work it’s more flexibility with your time.”
The robot washes each teat and a vacuum dries them prior to milking. A feed tray attached to the front of the machine is in place to entice the cows. A computer keeps track of the cows via an electronic collar and when they are attached to the milking machine it estimates their expected yield. If the cow does not milk to that yield the machine will try three times then release the animal under an incomplete status.
Wizard Lake boat launch
Construction of the Wizard Lake boat launch was budgeted at $25,000. Approximately $14,000 to $15,000 has been spent on gravelling and earth work. Signage, curbs and barriers will be installed once Alberta 1st calls are complete.
Mulhurst Bay RV development
Within the Mulhurst Bay RV development there are complaints of too many holiday trailers on parcels, party spots and confusion between short-term camping and RV storage. “They don’t look at zoning, they don’t look at the bylaw, they buy it because it’s by a lake … it snowballs,” said Grant.