The Village of Big Valley will support an effort to get a provincial grant to help repair or replace the “north bridge” that allows access to the village.
The decision was unanimously made by council at their Nov. 26 regular meeting.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sandra Schell noted the issue of the north bridge replacement was on the agenda because the County of Stettler once again wanted to know if Big Valley would support an application to get a Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) grant to help pay for the project, estimated at $1 million.
Shell noted the STIP grant is a 25/75 per cent cost split, 25 per cent local municipality, 75 per cent provincial government.
If successful, this would mean municipalities might be expected to pay up to $250,000 for the project.
Coun. Harry Nibourg stated he’d been told the project cost could range from $670,000 to $1 million.
The north bridge, located on Twp Rd #355, runs from Hwy. #56 and has been the subject of some debate over who is responsible for the bridge.
Nibourg asked if Big Valley has ever done any kind of study on the bridge’s condition, and Schell answered no, because technically the bridge is outside the village and is located in the County of Stettler.
Schell stated the county has investigated the bridge’s condition and apparently it’s not good news.
Nibourg stated the STIP grant sounds like a pretty good idea, as 75 cents on the dollar isn’t a bad deal. He also stated he didn’t think Stettler county would address the bridge problem if the village doesn’t help.
“I could see them just closing it down,” said Nibourg.
Schell stated Alberta Transportation calls bridges like the one in question “urban access roads” and deem them the responsibility of the county, not the provincial government.
Mayor Clark German stated he’d spoken to Stettler County Reeve Larry Clarke and noted the county doesn’t necessarily agree with Alberta Transportation’s opinion of who’s responsible for the bridge.
German stated his discussion with the reeve gave him the impression the county isn’t willing to spend anything on the bridge.
German stated the north bridge is an important access to Big Valley and while he was initially hesitant to commit to repairing it, he’s since changed his mind and feels applying for the grant is a good idea and the village’s share could be determined later. German stated there’s no guarantee any grants will even be available for tis bridge in the future.
Nibourg agreed, stating the 25 per cent municipal share doesn’t have to be figured out right now.
Nibourg stated he felt that even if Big Valley has to pay the entire 25 per cent, the bridge is too important to the village to just shut it down and if the bridge’s condition isn’t addressed now, it’ll have to be addressed later.
Coun. Art Tizzard agreed that the grant is a good idea. “I feel we should apply,” said Tizzard.
Councillors unanimously agreed to write a letter of support for Stettler County’s STIP grant application to address the condition of the north bridge into Big Valley.