Stettler County heard a request for help with access to a parcel of land during their regular meeting Aug. 12.
Landowner Roger McNair spoke as a delegation to council via teleconference in order to meet pandemic guidelines.
In a letter sent to the county before the meeting, McNair stated, “This letter is concerning my lands near Big Valley as follows, NE and NW 14-35-21 W4, SE and SW 23-35-21 W4,” stated the letter addressed to Coun. Dave Grover and dated July 23, 2020.
“The only access to my land is a partly developed trail (road allowance) that is often not passable. I have relied on an old agreement with a neighbour to use their corrals to move my cattle out to grazing.
“This neighbour’s land has now changed ownership and the old agreement that was in place since the original purchase of both of our lands is no longer in place.
“In order to have a secure and reliable method of grazing my land I need reliable access to my land with cattle liners. The present trail is not passable with a cattle liner.”
He stated he’s spoken to the new neighbouring property owner who is sympathetic to his situation.
McNair stated during his presentation to council that access has always been a problem for this land. He said there is a lot of puddling on the road when it rains and it becomes quite slippery.
McNair also stated a defunct oil and gas company, Trident Exploration, was using the access road but didn’t do much to maintain it. He stated he’s been told another company has taken over Trident’s operation.
County staff noted a quarter section of farmland like McNair’s would pay about $200 a year in taxes.
McNair stated he feels he should be able to access his property on his own just like other county property owners do, but wasn’t necessarily expecting a brand new road either.
“I’m not looking for a four-lane highway,” said McNair.
Coun. James Nibourg stated that McNair has the option to upgrade the road on his own if he wishes.
County staff noted that a road-use agreement is possible and that the county could pay up to $10,000 as their share of upgrading the road to a municipal standard.
Looking at photos provided by McNair, Reeve Larry Clarke stated he wasn’t sure the access could ever be upgraded enough to handle cattle liners.
Clarke stated Stettler County has a lot of access situations like this and stated if the taxpayers pick up the bill for McNair’s, then the same offer must be made to everyone in the same situation.
County Chief Administrative Officer Yvette Cassidy pointed out the access in question is a trail, not a road and she stated she couldn’t see county staff going in to do work on a trail.
Cassidy also noted that with oil and gas businesses regularly shutting right now, a number of trails like this one are being left with less maintenance.
Director of Operations Rick Green stated the access is basically a bladed trail and suggested neighbours or users of the trail should work together to improve it.
Green also added there is a body of water on the property that’s fairly deep and is a serious obstacle to anyone building a road there.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter