Stettler County council agreed to purchase additional chemicals in the amount of $36,940 at the county meeting on September 11 to complete the 2013 road side spray program. The extra spray was needed because of the wet spring and large infestations of tall sweet clover. This type of clover is a concern for wildlife, affects sight lines and causes erosion of roadway shoulders.
Eighty per cent of all roads were budgeted to be sprayed in the County this year. Some stretches are not sprayed because of sensitive crops.
On recommendation from the Municipal Planning Commission, the County of Stettler approved providing $50,000 to cost share the water system which will provide potable water and fire protection to the Hayden/McKay Development which is adjacent to the Town of Stettler.
Revised business plan
The Shirley McClellan Regional Water Services Commission was requesting each of its partners to approve its revised Business Plan.
The new Plan proposes completing the system by 2021. Wayne Nixon, reeve, and Tim Fox, CAO, expressed concern that the Commission is perhaps biting off more than they should at this time. The provincial government has advised there will be no more new money from the Water for Life program until 2017 and Lacombe County has indicated they really have no need to belong to both Highway 12/21 and the SMRWSC. If they withdraw from SMRWSC, it would have negative financial implications.
Nearly $45 million has been expended on the system to date and $15 million is committed to the Big Valley and the North Line to the Donalda lines. To complete the remaining sections will require an additional $33 million. In the past, the Water for Life grant covered 90 per cent of the total cost and the Commission financed 10 per cent through borrowing.
With the Water for Life grants suspended until at least 2017, the Commission asked for and received approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs to exceed the Commission’s allowed debt limit.
A motion was passed to recommend to the Commission that the Business Plan push back Erskine’s water supply for three years as residents there don’t want access to the waterline.
Lot development – Erskine
Councillor Joe Gendre had three people approach him expressing interest in buying lots in Erskine. After discussion, it was agreed Administration would develop a business plan for residential lot development and bring it forward to Council in late fall for further discussion and decision.
A legal crosswalk cannot be put across Highway 835, north of Rochon Sands, unless there are sidewalks on both sides of the road. At present, a crosswalk is in place to allow foot access to both sides of Erskine separated by the highway, but it is not legal as there are no sidewalks in place once the road is crossed. A motion was passed to approve adding the additional pathway to next year’s budget.
Tax exemption request
The Donalda and District Agriculture Society (DDAS) had put up three towers, using a provincial government grant, to get better internet services into their area. The first internet provider, Nowfast Technologies, went out of business. Only recently Syban Systems took over as operator and pays an annual lease of $1,200 to the Ag Society. The DDAS is seeking tax forgiveness as they are a not-for-profit organization. The County passed a motion to forgive taxes for 2012/13.
Mackay family venture
The commercial development undertaken by the McKay Family Joint Venture was assessed as Non-Residential (Commercial) for the 2013 tax year. By letter, Doug McKay requested that Council change the assessment class back to “farmland” as there has been no lot sales to date. A motion was passed to deem land, NE 32-38-19-4 as farmland for the 2013 tax year.
The majority of councillors were frustrated with the condition of the secondary highways throughout the county, a provincial responsibility. “People think they’re our roads,” said Councillor James Nibourg. All councillors were asked to submit suggestions, and concerns regarding the condition and maintenance of three-numbered highways in their region so they could be taken to the responsible government.
A motion to approve a request by Dale Tucker to have the County build up his laneway so that the school bus would be able to use the road was defeated. There is no policy that allows the County to do work on private laneways and it would set a very poor precedence.
A motion was passed to supply a water connection to the Gadsby Community Hall. The projected cost is $10, 000 to $12,000.
CAO Tim Fox has asked that a policy, application process, and a fee structure be developed for water connections. He said Administration is receiving more and more inquiries from private organizations seeking access to the pipeline.
Many ratepayers have been complaining about the upkeep of railway crossings and some of the sight line problems especially east of Stettler. Tim Fox will compile a list of concerns and attempt to meet with CP officials. If that is unsuccessful, the issues will be taken to the zone and/or provincial level.