Stettler County facing costly decisions

A petition calling for a vote on Bylaw 1558-16 to allow the County of Stettler to borrow $7.6 million of the $9.6 million needed for the new public works shop was declared sufficient by CAO

Tim Fox at the Mar. 9 regular meeting.

Council set a date for an additional public meeting for Mar. 22 to deal with the petition. Council can opt to proceed with the bylaw and submit it to a vote of the ratepayers or they can choose not to proceed. The announcement of tender awards for the shop was also postponed to the same meeting.

Current public works shop
Now that construction of the new shop is on hold pending the outcome of the ratepayer petition, conditions of the old shop are back under the spotlight.

Council agreed to spend the $45,000 required to conduct an intrusive investigation on the old shop. Stantec conducted a property assessment in 2014 but the assessment was a visual inspection only and did not delve into wall interiors.

The first inspection found safety code violations that required removal of staff from the second floor of the shop. Temporary portables were setup to replace the lost office space. A more in depth investigation could likely find more problems and, according to CAO Tim Fox, once begun cannot be stopped.

Coun. Greggory Jackson asked Director of Engineering Rick Green, who presented the Request for Decision for the investigation, whether the findings could result in the suspension of the use of the shop. Green said it was a possibility. A number of councillors suggested other shops could be available to rent if staff were required to vacate the shop until it could be brought up to code.

The consensus among councillors was that the information on the shop was needed regardless if the new shop moves ahead. The projected costs for upgrades to the old shop are $683,540. That does not include optional upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems and the building’s interior and structure, which together would add another $725,000.

Road construction hits roadblocks
Getting road construction projects underway is becoming an exercise in futility for Green as he requested council’s direction on where to go with planned projects.

Council had approved a five-year plan for upgrading county roads but the highest priority roads have come to a stand still as negotiations with landowners have halted.

Aside from the purchase of land for right of way, the county also requires permission from landowners for the removal of trees, backsloping of land, use of equipment on the land and so on. Without that, the project stalls.

“Often the county has been criticized for not building roads. Residents are unaware of the blocks the county is up against,” stated Coun. Les Stulberg.

Rather than approach the projects on a piece meal basis, completing only the parts of a project where agreement has been reached, council approved Green’s request to move to the next project where the county has 100 per cent approval from residents.

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