County takes a swing at providing firewood services

The County of Wetaskiwin is going to be providing loose firewood at the six campground parks within the county...

County of Wetaskiwin No.10

County of Wetaskiwin No.10

The County of Wetaskiwin is going to be providing loose firewood at the six campground parks within the county, however, councillors are looking to address a number of concerns before any final decisions are made.

During county council’s March 7 meeting councillors accepted the tender bid from Family Firewood for a total bid amount of $126,000 for a three-year term, commencing May 1, 2017.

How much to charge for firewood, how much wood is included in the charge, whether or not to provide a mix of free and purchasable wood, the necessity of firewood attendants, and how to house the wood to keep it dry and safe from thieves were a handful of the concerns councillors debated during their meeting.

Administration has been directed to research the issues and create a proposed policy to come back to council.

Councillors also had to choose between offering bundled or loose firewood.

After listening to Geoff Lynch, director of leisure and community services, relate the pros and cons of each service council decided on the loose firewood option, as many councillors felt the bundle bags are not environmentally friendly.

“We tend to frown upon burning plastic in the county so why would we promote it in our campgrounds,” said Coun. Keith Johnson.

Coun. Garry Dearing stated he is concerned about the environmental impact of the bags, whether they are burned or end up in the landfill.

Coun. Larry McKeever, was also not in favour of the bundle bags and Coun. Lyle Seely thought using wheelbarrows to move the loose wood was a better option. “I’m throwing out my preference, which is loose.”

When cost recovery concerns were raised, Seely’s solution was to limit the number of pieces per wheelbarrow.

In waiting for a policy to come from administration Dearing felt council should approve purchasing the loose wood in bulk and decide how to distribute it at a later date. “Then at least we have wood.”

The discussion was deferred from council’s June 21, 2016 meeting, as which time it decided to move it to the 2016 Strategic and Business Planning Session for 2017 budget considerations.

“I think it’s time to deal with it,” said McKeever.

Seely says if council enters the three-year term then a review can be down when the term is up to see if revisions are needed.