County Division 2 candidates talk road issues and RV use

Election attracts diverse candidate pool

Roads, recreational vehicles, and other County of Wetaskiwin issues were all topics of interest at the Division 2 candidates forum.

In attendance at the Sept. 27 forum was Lynn Carwell, Wayne Maygard and incumbent Terry Van de Kraats.

Carwell was born on and grew up on a family farm in the Division 2 area.

For the past 20 years she was worked in the insurance business. “My career has given me wisdom about finances.”

“I know about living in the country and the challenges,” she added. “I would never be nonchalant about a concern that you had.”

Carwell is also an active volunteer in her community and has been involved with Canada Day celebrations and the Gwynne Valley Ski Area.

Maygard has also lived in the area all his life and has a background in construction, transportation and farming.

Maygard would like to see increased co-operation between the councillors in council chambers. “The councillors have to be more involved in the county.”

“Councillors have the duty to work with ratepayers,” he added, saying concerns must be addressed by councillors with courtesy.

Maygard also mentioned the county’s public works department during his opening statements. “The public works is the biggest expense we’ve got.”

Van de Kraats served the last two terms on council and moved to the County of Wetaskiwin after living his first 20 years in Edmonton. “I had this childhood dream to go farming.”

After first trying his hand at mixed farming Van de Kraats operated a dairy farm for 25 years before handing it over to his sons. He now farms approximately 1,000 acres of crop land.

“I would love to take this next term if you’d give me that opportunity,” said Van de Kraats.

As a councillor, Van de Kraats likes to take an open approach and wants to hear the concerns of the ratepayers in order to seek resolution.

Several questions around county roads were asked during the forum, the first being about the future of Secondary Highway 822. Van de Kraats said of his previous years on council, a push to pave the highway has been at the forefront for council. He added, for himself, it continues to stay a major issue.

“I’ve brought it up every year. I tell them (Alberta Transportation) it’s a shame it’s even called a highway,” said Van de Kraats.

Maygard has previously worked with Alberta Transportation and says Secondary Highway 822 was once meant to be paved years ago.

“It always gets bumped back,” said Maygard.

Carwell says even 30 and 40 years ago her father was questioning why the highway was designated that way and not paved.

“There’s got to be some information that we’re missing,” said Carwell.

Candidates were questioned on their position regarding winter gravelling.

Carwell says across the county this previous spring she felt the roads were worse then they had ever been. She feels the course of action taken should be to discover the underlying issue affecting road conditions, whether it be management, work disputes or culvert issues.

“We have to move to resolve it. Our quality of gravel is terrible,” she added.

Maygard says winter gravelling on frozen roads simply results in the gravel being pushed into the ditches.

“I don’t like it … I’m dead against winter gravelling,” said Maygard.

Van de Kraats says in the past council has reviewed its policies surrounding winter gravelling and he is willing to review again if called to do so.

“It is very cost effective to do it in the proper conditions,” said Van de Kraats.

How the candidates felt the best way to address the use and maintenance of roads with heavy machinery traffic was also up for discussion.

Carwell is in favour of utilizing road bans and designating certain roads for heavy equipment use. “I think it’s a good idea.”

Maygard would like to see road maintenance improve across the county. “I think all roads should be treated equally. You’ve got to maintain all roads equally.”

Van de Kraats says the county uses road bans and increased gravel on high traffic roads to help improve road conditions. “It’s an ongoing issue throughout the county.”

While it is a more prevalent issue in the areas around Pigeon Lake and Buck Lake, the ongoing land use RV bylaw discussion did make its way into the forum.

“It’s such an emotional issue right now,” said Carwell. She believes the county needs to achieve a happy medium without letting the situation get out of control, as the county’s current land use bylaw is too stringent.

The incumbent stated zoning and planning gives residents and developers of subdivisions an idea as to what is expected and allowed in the subdivision. “For me it’s all about zoning and proper planning,” said Van de Kraats.

Maygard added, “I tend to agree with Terry. It has gotten out of control. There’s got to be control.” He added he is not familiar with the county’s policy and procedure on the matter.

The candidates were also asked what they felt would be the county’s biggest issue to face in the upcoming years.

Carwell says the county needs to adapt as the world changes; she specifically mentioned the environmental and energy sectors. She added it would be good to look to European counties on these matters. “We have to think about solar panels and clean energy.”

Maygard feels there needs to be better communication between councillors. “I think roads are going to be a great big issue coming up.”

Van de Kraats agreed roads will be a concern, as well as the energy sector and its decline. “Over the years the energy sector has pumped a lot of money into this province … We’ve had to deal with that in budget.”

Division 2 ratepayers can vote at the County of Wetaskiwin administration office, the Central Community Hall and the Vang Church on election day, Oct. 16.

Advance Polling Stations will be held Oct. 5 and 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the county office, the Buck Lake Community Centre and the Falun Community Centre.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca

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