The Town of Castor council granted a resident’s request for gravel on an undeveloped right of way at the regular meeting of council July 27.
The meeting was conducted via Facebook to meet special distancing requirements.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee presented councillors with an update on a request that apparently was granted during a previous term of council.
“I am writing this letter to find out when we will be receiving our gravel that we had asked for and was approved for six years ago,” stated the letter signed by Castor resident Travis Jordahl.
“We would really like three tandem trucks full, if possible, to be put back there. It would be greatly appreciated if we could get this come next spring.”
Robblee stated in his report the request may be more complicated than it seemed.
“A letter was sent to council in December of 2019, per the attached,” stated Robblee in his report.
“Council reviewed the matter and asked that administration follow up with those that might have interest in the right of way in question.
“Administration has confirmed the following: that the right of way is owned by the town, that the right of way is not a road/alley or other marked infrastructure to be maintained by the town and that (Shirley McClellan Regional Water) does have interest in the form of disturbance, but if no heavy loads go down it, it should not present an issue. Unless something was to happen to the line or road then the town would be responsible for repair.
“Further, that SMRWS does not warranty or guarantee they will not damage the road if they must dig up sections in extreme cases.
“Council should consider that other residents may claim they are affected by or infringed upon by making the right of way more accessible. That other residents may claim that they do not have equal access to said infrastructure.
“That development of such a right of way has changed the drainage of the area, thereby causing damage to their property.”
The CAO stated budget implications were not major but there was a reason to be cautious.
“The budget implication is roughly $900 based on a 2019 quote,” stated Robblee. “There is a potential implication that providing material to maintain a right of way proves the argument that such an area is functioning similar to an alley and the town is obligated to then develop it.”
He further recommended asking for legal advice on the implications of maintaining infrastructure or right of ways that could then be seen as providing a function similar to an alley.
Robblee stated more investigation revealed the request was related to water drainage causing a problem in people’s yards.
Councillor Brenda Wismer suggested the town seeking legal advice may be the wisest route as placing the gravel may set a precedent.
Robblee noted legal advisors tend to be risk-averse and the advice will probably cost the town about $1,500, compared to the $900 for the gravel.
Deputy Mayor Tony Nichols asked if the gravel section would then be used by people as a way to access their back yards.
It was also noted that some private storage sheds were encroaching on the right of way.
Councillors eventually decided to provide the gravel with a letter stipulating that the town makes no warranty of the infrastructure, the right of way is not to be used as an alley or road, and that the town will make no further contributions to the right of way.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter