In light of mounting concerns regarding the County of Wetaskiwin providing firewood at county campgrounds, councillors have decided to make no changes for the upcoming camping season and move forward with a new firewood process next year.
Council is leaning toward providing a certain amount of free wood for campers but placing an additional charge on any wood wanted above the set limit. However, this route means modifying wood storage bins, and setting schedules for when the firewood is available.
Councillors Garry Dearing, Larry McKeever and Terry Van de Kraats declined to support council’s motion.
Dearing questioned whether or not there was enough time to get the required infrastructure in place. “Is it feasible to get the capital in place for this year?”
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers was also concerned about the time it would take to get everything ready to sell firewood.
Despite not making changes to firewood services this year, advancements will be made in firewood service policy and storage units to ensure everything is ready in time for the 2018 camping season.
Many of the councillors felt a system of offering some free wood and having campers pay for additional wood was too convoluted of a process.
However, Coun. Lyle Seely seems to be a fan of the proposed process. “I don’t think it’s that complicated.”
“You get so many sticks, after that you buy it,” he added.
Director of leisure and community services Geoff Lynch provided council with a variety of firewood volume options, including a 1.5 cubic foot option. Seely believes this would work out to approximately 14 logs. “You want more, get your wallet out.”
Van de Kraats says rather than selling loose firewood he feels council should go back and look at a bagged wood option again. “I think we made the wrong decision last month and I didn’t speak up last month.”
Van de Kraats added the only issue council seemed to have with the bagged wood was the bag materials, and if council has investigated different material options it would be in a better position to move forward with wood sales this year.
Rooyakkers questioned if council could hire a private contractor to sell wood in the campgrounds, leaving council less involved in the process.
However, as CAO Frank Coutney reminded councillors, they have already accepted a tender bid for loose firewood and cannot go back to change the decision.