One County of Stettler councillor voiced concern that some truck inspection fees aren’t necessary in cold weather. The concern was voiced at the April 14 regular meeting of council.
Coun. Ernie Gendre, during a part of the meeting where councillors can bring forth their own concerns or issues, stated he was concerned with the county policy of requiring certain overload inspections, especially in wintertime. Gendre stated a fee is charged to the truck driver for the inspection which Gendre stated doesn’t always seem necessary in cold weather when the ground is frozen.
According to the county’s Public Works section of the fees bylaw, the inspection fee for an overload is $450 per occurrence.
Director of Operations Rick Green answered Gender’s concern, stating Gendre’s suggestion to waive certain fees or inspections in cold weather is possible and depends greatly on road conditions. Some readers may not be aware that large commercial trucks, especially if they’re hauling oversize loads, can potentially damage a road if the road is softening due to springtime, rain or other conditions.
Overload damage to a road can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Green pointed out, generally speaking, roads in Stettler County aren’t frozen solid until after Christmas plus unexpected warm spells can pop up.
However, Green stated whether a physical inspection of an overload is needed when county staff know the road is frozen was a good question. He did note, however, that even if fees are waived drivers would still have to register the load with the county so Public Works knows what’s going down the roads.
Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk stated it was possible for staff to look into a waiver for fees when road conditions allow. Gendre answered he felt this would really help out the trucking industry, as winter is when companies can do a lot of work. The $450 fee is substantial, he noted, especially for something like a single load.
Coun. James Nibourg stated inspections have value for companies that follow the rules, because some companies don’t.
Green added that some fees are part of a cost-recovery, user-pay system so that taxpayers don’t subsidize everything.
Reeve Larry Clarke stated trucking companies expect to pay fees, which are commonly charged everywhere. “It’s nothing new,” said the reeve.
Coun. Nibourg, during the councillor request for information part of the meeting, voiced concern about some railway crossings that were recently worked on by CP Rail. Nibourg stated it appears though the rail work was finished, some of the crossing are still quite rough for motorists and he seems to have a lot of them in his division.
Green acknowledged some crossings need work. “They’re not smooth, for sure,” said Green.
Green noted it appears CP Rail installed heavier rail to handle bigger loads and lifted the track for this work. He noted Public Works crews were told by CP Rail workers to stay away from the crossings and that they’ll be smoothed when CP Rail gets to them. Green stated the county could voice their concerns to CP Rail but he honestly had no idea who to contact.
Nibourg moved that the County of Stettler contact CP Rail to complain about rough crossings in general, including one on Sec. Hwy. #835 that was smoothed a couple years ago and is already rough.
Coun. Cheri Neitz stated she felt the crossings weren’t just rough, but a safety hazard to motorists. The motion was passed unanimously.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter