General Traffic Bylaw changes propose tarping for all agricultural loads

Stettler County council has proposed a few changes to the general traffic bylaw, one being the blanket rule of having all loads whether agricultural or otherwise be tarped when transporting.

Knowing that public feedback would be vital to discussion as to what direction to take, council passed first reading at their regular meeting on Wed. Oct. 9.

With increasing complaints about unsecured aggregates, Administration proposed an amendment that would require earth, sand, gravel, or other loose material to be thre inches below the top of the container, and completely covered.

After debate, council felt this was too specific as loads can be very uneven.

“We are just trying to prevent the mound at the top of the container,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy.

Council chose to remove this to leave at simply ‘all aggregate loads shall be covered’ to avoid the headache of measuring and leaving it up to interpretation.

The reason this rule is being considered is that a complaint, which drives change, was submitted where a silage truck was not tarped, letting loose material fly.

In this case, it was reported the driver passing by couldn’t see as the material had flown into their line of sight.

Two other changes have been proposed.

Currently, the General Traffic Bylaw prohibits any off highway vehicle to be operated on an Environmental Reserve (ER).

Two residents of Scenic Sands circulated a petition within their subdivision and gained support for amending the bylaw to allow seasonal usage of off highway vehicles to cross the ER to get to the lake.

This would allow council, CAO, or the Director of Public Works to erect signs allowing the use of off highway vehicles in designated portions of the ER.

The intent would be to erect and remove signs seasonally, as conditions allow the operation of snowmobiles without disturbing the reserve.

Alan Murray and Ivan Pardy, Scenic Sands residents, presented a delegation to council on their hard work to make this arrangement possible.

The pair went door to door to gain signatures in favour of having snowmobiles access a safer, more direct route to the lake.

Out of the 81 lots in the area, 61 were in favour while two were opposed. The remaining did not vote.

“This proposed exemption does not just benefit the snowmobile owners. A common comment from lot owners was that the packed trails from snowmobiles allowed them to access the ER to enjoy the outdoors,” said Murray.

Residents in particular along Macdonald Drive and View Place use the T&T and Weiland paths to access the lake.

This allows quick and safe access to the lake.

In addition, the packed trails created by the snowmobiles on ER lands allows foot traffic on paths that would not otherwise be available in deep snow conditions.

In the winter of 2018/2019, the County of Stettler Stettler County bylaw officer received a complaint concerning snow mobile use on the ER lands and as such will be enforcing the restriction of snowmobiles on ER lands.

In order to comply with this restriction, residents on Macdonald Drive and View place would have to use Buffalo Drive to access the lake.

There were concerns with this.

Buffalo Drive can be a busy road with resident traffic as well as traffic from ice fishermen that use Buffalo Drive to access the lake.

The Drive can also have unsafe driving conditions for snow mobiles as the road receives more sun than other roads in the community and quite often can be either bare gravel or ice.

Lastly, some language around road use agreements was adjusted to remove any ambiguity as to who can be charged for failing to obtain a road use agreement.

Protective Services is most effectively able to charge the operator of the vehicle, rather than the company that owns the load.

Organizational meeting

Two weeks prior to the regular monthly meeting, an organizational meeting took place. These meetings determine how much a councillor and reeve make, mileage costs, positions on various boards and establishing when the regular meetings will be held.

It gives council a chance to review where they currently sit and what can be adjusted to make their schedules run smoothly when representing the county.

At the meeting on Wed. Sept. 25., Larry Clarke was given the title of Reeve once again.

A six-month rotation for deputy reeve will take place with Coun. Cheri Neitz starting with the months of June to January 2020.

Council meetings will remain on the second Wednesday of the month beginning at 10 a.m.

Council agreed to start conversations and lobby efforts by speaking with local MLA Nate Horner regarding the quick deterioration of Boehlke’s Pond. Boehlke’s Pond is located just off Highway 855, north of Endiang. Seen here is a photo taken in 2018 of the eroding barrier. ECA Review/Submitted

Boehlke’s Pond

Over the past years Council and the Agricultural Service Board (ASB) have had many conversations regarding the status of Boelhke’s Pond and the County of Stettler’s role in maintaining this recreational site.

On Sept. 20, Bob Thomson sent an email outlining the historical information on Boehlke’s Pond.

The next week, CAO Cassidy met with Thomson and Coun. Ernie Gendre who wanted to discuss some possible solutions to maintaining the site for the future enjoyment of county residents.

Council felt this conversation should have involved all of the councillors as the pond holds sentimental value and history they wish to keep.

They discussed the current erosion of the dam site and due to high spring runoffs beginning in 2011 with wind-induced wave action expectations are that the dam will be fully eroded in the next three to 10 years.

Alberta Environment and Parks have the water license associated with the actual dam site.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) is interested in restoring the wetlands upslope but has no interest in acquiring the water license.

DU could restore the large wetland northwest of these water bodies that has been drained by machinery.

Various government departments, the County of Stettler and three landowners would need to be willing to permit the wetland restoration for payment by the acre.

The large wetland would capture most of the over-land agricultural related nutrients so they did not enter the fish pond, but as it is, unnatural water flows and additional nutrients now discharge directly into the fish pond.

Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) does have an interest in the Protective Notation area of the crown upland through Bucks for Wildlife.

The ACA has at other sites acquired the Water License and become the deeded Private Land Title Owner.

The respective Municipality has waived the annual property taxes to assist the ACA in these projects.

Representatives from the ACA and Mr. Thomson toured Boehlke’s Pond recently and have identified some of the watershed issues.

They laser surveyed the fish pond water level and determined it is identical to the north wetland water elevation level.

The culvert has heaved from ice movement and the turn-style gate is not functioning thus it is continuously transferring water flow and nutrients like an equilibrium culvert (not two separate water bodies).

Rick Green, Director of Engineering and Public Works, cautioned council about taking on too much responsibility as it could open the doors to liability issues.

“We want to make sure the responsibility falls in the right hands,” said

Council made a motion to speak with Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner regarding their concerns, hoping to “get the ball rolling again.”

Boehlke’s Pond is located just off Highway 855, north of Endiang.

Stop work order

The owner of an unpermitted “Agricultural Supply Depot” holding Hydrated Lime on the NE 3-39-19-W4M has requested that the County of Stettler alter a Stop Order issued for the property to allow for the removal of an existing processed Cement Kiln Dust (CKD) stockpile on the subject property.

The owner of the operation has indicated that this is a time sensitive matter as the agricultural application of CKD must be complete during the 2019 harvest season.

Dale Anderson mentioned the situation was time sensitive with the quick change in weather and other factors.

A special Municipal Planning Commission meeting was called and took place on Fri. Oct. 11 to let the MPC a chance to review and allow the work order to cease.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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