County road ban system discussed Nov. 13

Public Works dept. head proposes more information on county website

County of Wetaskiwin councilors took a deep look at how the municipality handles road bans during the Public Works meeting Nov. 13.

Public Works manager Neil Powell presented the item to council, and noted in his memo a complaint from a member of the public was one reason for the presentation.

“At the July 17, 2018 Council for Public Works meeting, Council heard concerns from delegation Dale Franklin, who expressed concern over the road ban program in the County of Wetaskiwin.

“Mr. Franklin referenced agricultural permits which allow farmers to travel at 90 per cent on a banned 75 per cent road, yet general haulers are restricted to 75 per cent.

“At that time Council directed Administration to investigate the structure of road bans in neighboring municipalities and to report back to Council.”

Powell stated his department contacted many nearby municipalities to compare road ban policies. He stated in his report that all ban their gravel roads in spring, all have certain roads that are banned year round, all have supporting by-laws and policies that support their authority to ban and all have the authority to grant special permits during ban season with approvals granted under special conditions.

Powell’s report contained information from four neighbouring municipalities:

Brazeau County

Hamlets within the county are banned year round at 75 per cent. Oil based roads are 100 per cent with the exception of a few named roads at 75 per cent. Gravel surfaces are 100 per cent with the exception of an extensive list banned at 75 per cent

Camrose County

Gravel surfaces are 100 per cent with the exception of two roads banned at 75 per cent.

Agriculture permits are not required for farmers during non-road bans. When seasonal road bans are in effect all overweight traffic must obtain a Road Use Agreement and bond at $50,000 per mile.

Clearwater County

Gravel surfaces are 100 per cent with the exception of three roads banned at 50 per cent.

Leduc County

Pavement- surfaced roads are 100 per cent with the exception of an extensive list banned at 75 per cent.

Gravel surfaces are 100 per cent with the exception of three roads banned at 75 per cent.

Leduc County has a “No Truck Route Bylaw” prohibiting trucks from traveling on designated portions of roadway in an effort to preserve and protect road infrastructure. This bylaw does not apply to trucks traveling to or from premises which are located along a designated route, or a truck operated by or under hire by Leduc county for snow removal, road building/maintenance or maintenance of county property.

Agricultural producers and commercial haulers planning to haul grain or other cereal crops, must get a permit (should the load weights exceed road bans). Producers may be eligible for a free road ban exemption permit, allowing them to haul during road ban season.

Ponoka County

Oiled and Chip Sealed Roads are banned at 50 per cent.

Numerous roads are banned at 50 per cent year round.

Gravel surfaces are 100 per cent.

All oil field and agricultural activity must get a permit from the county. No special privileges are granted to the agriculture industry. The county will not hold them back from doing their farming but the permit alerts the county as to where activity is taking place and where maintenance may be required.

Powell noted the County of Wetaskiwin also has some 12 month bans. “A lot of our roads are banned year-round,” he said. He said springtime is when roads are most vulnerable to dame as they get soft with runoff and melt.

He said Public Works watches the roads closely and also watches the frost line as it moves across Alberta from south to north. He said road bans aren’t always popular, but they are necessary and staff are careful with them. “It’s not something that’s willy nilly,” said Powell.

Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers agreed bans are necessary. “It would be irresponsible not to put road bans on,” she said, adding the bad weather this fall shows how quickly roads can be affected by weather.

Reeve Terry Van de Kraats noted that in his eight years in council, there was one spring when bans weren’t placed, so it does happen, but not very often.

Powell did note in his report that the county could make two improvements to road ban strategy: “Make amendments to the Road Protection By-law and to the Road Use Agreements Policy. These will be developed prior to the 2019 road ban season.

“Formally write out the County’s Road Ban program and post this information on the County website. Must be thorough, clear and concise which will assist haulers in their day to day business and reduce calls to the County office.”

Councilors accepted the report for information.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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