Flax bale burning sparks new permit format

ECA Review/Terri Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

The reaction to burning flax bales near communities all over the county has made room for discussion at Starland County council.

During Glen Riep’s community services report, a draft agricultural application permit for burning flax straw bales was introduced.

Riep’s report stated, “There have been concerns raised on both sides with respect to the ‘privilege’ versus the ‘right’ to burn straw and also on the impact to the neighbouring residents during these operations.”

“The conditions of the permit are directed to minimize the impact of the operation by establishing setbacks from residential and public properties and by limiting the overall volume of material burnt in a single operation. 

“It is imperative that we establish guidelines for this application that allow agricultural operations to continue while not adversely impacting neighbouring residents.”

Council reviewed the permit application, only flagging one section in particular regarding set back distances.

It states that ‘in order to facilitate a safe and controlled burn operation, all burn piles must maintain a minimum separation distance from the following improvements’ including 200 meters from a primary or secondary roadway and a minimum of 100 metres from all other roadways and 400 metres from a residence not occupied by the applicant including all urban centres or residential properties.

Reeve Wanstrom said he doubted if some of the properties that utilize this permit would be far enough out to do their regular burning.

As a way to help alleviate that, it was suggested that they add a stipulation that if they want to burn closer to a residence, they can ask the resident with a signed agreement.

“I don’t think the rest of it is too bad, it’s just these distances,” said Wannstrom.

It was requested that maps be provided to show the distances in action and to hear what Riep has to say.

Council tabled this decision to next meeting.

Organizational Meeting

Starland County held their organizational meeting on Wed. Oct. 28 and determined that the position of reeve will continue to be Steve Wannstrom and Bob Sargent as deputy reeve.

Meeting times are remaining the same at the second and fourth Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. in council chambers.

Endeavor Chartered Accountants was appointed as auditor.    

Public works report

Public Works Supervisor Ken Menage brought up the painting of a certain generator shed that stands out against the exterior of the new county building.

After a quote from Eagle Builders for $1,200 to paint the shed excluding the large metal muffler on the side, other options were pursued.

Another quote came in for $700.

Administration and public works have been receiving flack about its ‘ugly’ appearance recently as well.

No motion was made.

Another issue brought up by Ken was the price for acoustic baffles for the shop which has come to $31,069.40.

“It would be nice to be able to talk out there,” he said.

Council chambers recently got their own baffles installed as echoing was a large problem. The same situation has now taken hold of the shop where any noise from machines is echoed and amplified.

It has become so loud in there that employees are getting personally-fitted ear plugs until baffles can be installed to absorb the excess noise.

These ear plugs cost $100 per person roughly.

Menage was asked to bring this back to council again next meeting.

Equipment policy

The policy regarding an employee’s use of equipment came back to the table for further discussion.

Section 2 described that anyone who resides in the county including employees are asked to rent equipment at the same rate as the public.

Anyone outside can find rental shops for their projects.

Administration mentioned this was not abused as maybe one or two employees would use county equipment once or twice a year.

Council was split over whether to scrap or keep this particular section. It was asked at the last meeting that this part be removed but was returned with revisions.

A lack of tracking for equipment coming and going was a primary concern for some councillors but administration stated that there is a rental form which is kept in the system.

A motion was made to scrap this section entirely and pass the policy with this revision which garnered a 3 – 2 vote.

Councillors Murray Marshall and Jackie Watts were opposed.

Starland/Stettler ICF

Fewer and fewer Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) agreements are being passed as most have already been done but for Starland and Stettler, they have officially solidified their agreement.

Council passed their ICF with the County of Stettler. County of Stettler has already passed theirs.

Every municipality with boundaries beside each other is required to have an ICF in place.

“It’s pretty straight forward,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Kreke. “It’s the same thing we made with Kneehill County.”


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). F