This letter is in response to your article in the Dec. 21, 2023, pg. 5 titled ‘Council talks about culvert responsibility’ under Elnora council.
Council talks about culvert responsibility since I was not given the opportunity to give this information.
First, and foremost, I was not informed that the council would be addressing this issue again. In fact, I have heard “nothing” further from council or Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Westgate on this matter even though Mayor Bissel said that he would reach out to me on this matter before next council meeting in November’s council meeting.
It was implied that they would not be fixing my culvert based on information Westgate allegedly obtained from someone at the Red Deer County offices.
This lack of communication is a constant trend with them as they seem to not want public input or to be challenged even though we have proven to do more investigation and confirming with Municipal Affairs (MA) and Red Deer County than Elnora’s CAO does.
In the same November meeting, when the CAO provided this information, I asked for the documentation required by Red Deer County (Elnora has adopted their Building and Development policies) that a resident must submit to build or repair the access to confirm if the village had made previous repairs on it. I asked this in order to avoid this discussion of setting a precedence. Because if the village had installed or repaired the culvert in the past, it would be “their” responsibility to fix it now. They said that they didn’t think they had such information!?!
I contacted the Red Deer County Engineering coordinator and he informed me that they treat every access repair request differently. There is no set policy and they do quite often fix culverts and other issues with residential accesses at the cost of the municipality. And gave me examples of times when they have repaired culverts and other times when they have not.
I contacted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs office and spoke in length to a manager there and was told that the Municipal Government Act (MGA) does give explicit responsibility to the municipality for public roads, but allows for councils to treat repairs like this on a case-to-case basis. Fixing one culvert does not mean that council has to fix every case. Also, if they have fixed them in the past, then by their interpretation of “fair”, does that not mean that they must fix this one.
Elnora council seems to be implying that if this one extremely damaged culvert is replaced that they will have to replace all culverts. Why would taxes go up to replace one culvert?
Also, I believe council had access to grant funds for infrastructure maintenance such as this that they wasted on bailing out a local business owner. If taxes have to go up to maintain Elnora’s infrastructure, it will be their fault.
Also, Westgate’s quote of the date I purchased my property is completely incorrect. I took possession in Nov of 2021. This is, in my opinion, just another sign of the lack of due diligence that our CAO puts into the information she provides the public and to council.
Followup letter to council
Although I am glad that you have not forgotten about this issue and have discussed it in two council meetings so far, I am withdrawing my request to this current council to have the culvert fixed in the access to my property.
This is not because I don’t think the village should replace it, it is because of what I consider to be insane reasoning of council at the last meeting and the clear indication that you just do not want to fix it.
Anyways, now you can stop spending taxpayers dollars discussing and investigating this issue and stop implying that fixing a culvert on public property is going to cause everyone’s taxes to skyrocket.
My hope is that if this current council is presented with another decision to spend over $400,000 of tax monies like they did this year in June/July, that they will put at least as much discussion and thought into that decision that they did into this one so far.
Lee Staats, B.Comm.