Limit set on costs to vandalized water well

Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler Ag Service Board (ASB) grudgingly approved repairs to a vandalized water station. The decision was made at the Feb. 28 regular board meeting.

The ASB is comprised of members of county council and chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.

Board members heard a report from Manager of Agriculture Services Quentin Beaumont regarding the Walker well ag tankloader station and the Byemoor water station.

Beaumont noted in August of 2023 the station was badly damaged by vandals, including the destruction of an overhead door. That was followed by more crime in November, including theft of county property.

Beaumont asked board members what they wished to do with the water station: close it permanently or repair it and re-open it to the public.

Board member Justin Stevens stated he previously wanted to close it, but with drought looming for 2024 he felt the station should remain open. Stulberg agreed.

Board member Dave Grover noted he spoke with residents in that area and they want the water station re-opened. Reeve Larry Clarke responded by asking what could be done to reduce or eliminate crime at the site.

Board members discussed security options and how much money such measures would cost.

Board member James Nibourg stated he was tired of seeing repeated vandalism against that water station and felt someone in the area was intentionally targeting it. He questioned spending any more money repairing it.

“This has become a real pain,” said Nibourg, adding there was another water source just down the road.

Stevens responded if the upcoming spring turns out to be quite wet, he’d be in favour of permanently closing this water station.

Board members approved, by a 5 to 2 vote, to repair the water station for a 2024 re-opening with a budget of $3,000. Nibourg and Grover were opposed, Grover stating he was simply opposed to placing a dollar limit on repairs.

Drought advice
Board members heard two presentations about drought preparedness, one from the Battle River Watershed Alliance, the second from the Alberta Water Council.

In those presentations, the suggestion of a drought response plan was mentioned. Beaumont noted in a report to the board his department is already developing such a plan.

Drought assistance
Board members heard an update on provincial and federal help for producers harmed by extreme weather last summer.

“The 2023 Canada-Alberta Drought Livestock Assistance initiative is expanding eligibility to 23 new regions and extending the application deadline.

Funding for this joint AgriRecovery initiative is provided through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP),” stated Beaumont’s report to the board.

He added that their websites are user-friendly and shouldn’t be difficult for producers to navigate.

Grover pointed out a March 15 deadline was approaching so producers shouldn’t hesitate.

Pesky boars
Beaumont updated the board on efforts to combat wild boars.

“Wild boar inspections have been conducted both by Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation and myself as well as drive-by inspections on my own to see where the wild boar are located within the premises,” stated Beaumont’s report.

“There are only a few pens that met the minimum standard requirements set out by the province.”

Wild boars have been declared a pest by the provincial government and are known to be causing noticeable damage to farm operations in certain parts of Alberta.

Pesky rodents
Beaumont updated the board on measures producers can take to combat another serious pest this summer: rodents.

“We will have three products on hand for the 2024 season, Rozol, Ground Force and Ramik Green,” stated Beaumont. “These are all multi-feed baits that are our only option now for Richardson Ground Squirrel control.”

Producers previously used strychnine to control such pests but that substance was recently banned by Health Canada.

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.