Kneehill County: Approval granted for half a million dollar snowplow

Kneehill County council gave its approval for the purchase of a new snowplow valued at over half a million dollars. The decision was made at the May 29 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a request from Project Construction Supervisor Mike Conkin for council to approve up to $555,000 from the capital equipment replacement reserve to fund the purchase of a Class 8 highway snowplow, noting the decision needed to be made soon to ensure the vehicle arrived before next winter.

Conkin stated in his presentation the existing snowplow wasn’t scheduled to be replaced until 2026 but a problem surfaced and an insurance company has become involved.

“The equipment has been scheduled for procurement based on the lifecycle replacement in 2026,” stated Conkin’s report. “Due to an insurance claim that deemed the equipment a complete loss, administration is proposing the procurement of a class 8 highway snowplow early to maintain our current level of service.

“The county currently operates with three plow trucks to cover a total of 92 km of paved/chip sealed roadway. The county deployment trigger is 5cm or two inches of surface accumulation or icy road conditions due to weather. The county’s goal is to have the road opened within 24 hours of a snow event.”

Conkin noted that if county crews are short one snowplow, they’ll have a very hard time trying to keep the level of service the same.

“Kneehill County expends monies each year to purchase replacement equipment to maintain current county service levels,” stated Conkin’s report to council. “Replacing this equipment now will allow Kneehill County to maintain current service levels, which would not be possible if operating with only two plow trucks.

“If the equipment is not replaced now, there would be a risk of being down a snowplow with no immediate back-up, which would create delays in service delivery.”

He added that early replacement was the best option, especially considering the ever-climbing cost of vehicles.

“Renting a snowplow was considered; however, replacing the equipment ultimately allows Kneehill County the ability to control the service and condition of the equipment to limit the amount of downtime of the equipment,” stated Conkin.

“Also, this equipment was already scheduled to be replaced in 2026. By replacing it early, an additional benefit is potential cost savings as equipment costs have continued to rise year over year.”

Conkin added that it’s not known what the exact insurance pay out will be for the old unit, but whatever it is would be placed in the capital equipment reserve on council’s approval.

Reeve Ken King asked if the figure of $555,000 would be enough to buy a new unit, which Conkin assured him it would be.

Coun. Wade Christie asked if Kneehill County already has a unit in mind to purchase.

Conkin responded the county has a few options when looking for a new snowplow, including ordering one from a company that quotes a 20 to 30 week delivery time. Conkin noted it’s possible there might be a brand new snowplow out there on a sales lot but it may not be exactly what the county needs.

Councillors unanimously approved up to $555,000 to buy a new snowplow as requested, plus unanimously agreed that insurance money for the old unit go to the capital equipment reserve.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.