Big Valley council hears sidewalk plan is work in progress

Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council heard that their recent decision to offer sidewalks on one side of a street will be a work in progress and not something done overnight. The discussion was held at the Oct. 12 regular meeting of council.

During the regular report of Public Works Foreman Amanda Valente councillors discussed a resolution they made at their September regular meeting that the village would move away from a sidewalk on each side of a road and instead have only one.

This came after concrete sidewalk work estimates were in the neighbourhood of $80,000 with a village budget of about $40,000.

However, during discussion it was stated the Public Works department and concrete contractors prepared to replace sidewalks on both sides of a street which seemed contrary to what councillors previously resolved.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Colleen Mayne stated the Public Works foreman had been away and there were several major changes in the village, including Mayne taking over as CAO, that contributed to a communication breakdown.

As they discussed the issue councillors examined the draft map prepared by the Public Works department on how a “one sidewalk” plan could proceed.
Mayor Clark German stated he felt the staff could use their judgement on which sidewalks weren’t needed. However, Mayne noted she hadn’t a chance to go out into the community yet and inspect all the sidewalks.

The CAO added she also felt it was important to offer the public a chance to give input on the “one sidewalk” plan.

She also noted the sidewalk plan would be a long-term project that wouldn’t be completed overnight and that the council resolution did not have a timetable included.
It was agreed the sidewalks already prepared for cement would be poured as planned.

Fate of the tractor
Valente gave an update on the Public Works tractor. At the September council meeting councillors hesitated at a suggestion to replace the tractor due to its age and unreliability and instead asked for the important vehicle to be inspected by a mechanic to see if it truly was past its usable life.

The tractor is used for many duties, including snow removal in winter.

She also noted a mechanic inspected the tractor as council requested; she reported the mechanic told her to park the tractor and avoid using it. The CAO agreed, noting she was told the tractor has “big issues.”

Valente noted an appraiser from Castor was supposed to visit Big Valley the week of Oct. 9 to give an opinion on what the tractor is worth.

Mayor German observed that Big Valley is a small community with limited resources, and could perhaps seek advice from a larger municipality on how best to proceed with the repair or replacement of the tractor, adding this may provide councillors with the facts they need to make the best decision. Valente stated she will contact a larger municipality and seek advice.

Sewer issues
Valente gave an update on a serious recent sewer issue that involved help from plumbers and what appeared to be a collapsing line. The Public Works foreman stated that after workers examined the line closely, including the use of a camera, dirt and rocks were coming out so it’s assumed the line collapsed.

Valente stated that the village recently had a high-pressure test and she wondered if the collapse was related to this test.

Coun. Dan Houle added that the test was conducted by a third party working for MPE Engineering, which is itself conducting an infrastructure study for the village.
During discussion councillors and staff stated they were concerned that this problem may occur multiple times to other residents over the coming winter.

The CAO noted this subject was to be discussed in council’s closed session later in the meeting.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.