Village of Big Valley tweaks snow removal policy

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Village of Big Valley’s official administrator tweaked the municipality’s snow removal policy to put it back in line with what was described as realistic staff capabilities at the Jan. 15 regular meeting of council.

In a phone call with the ECA Review newspaper Jan. 16 Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Colleen Mayne stated that Official Administrator (OA) Gene Sobolewski passed a resolution increasing the snowfall threshold which triggers village staff to begin clearing snow from Big Valley’s streets and avenues.

Readers should note virtually all municipalities have a policy or bylaw that defines the exact depth of snow that, when reached, impels municipal staff to begin plowing snow.

Mayne noted historically Big Valley used the figure of 7 cm for the snow plow threshold, but at a previous council meeting sometime in the past councillors were advised to lower that threshold to 2 cm, which Mayne noted is only about an inch of snow.

“That’s unrealistic because we would have somebody out there every five minutes,” said Mayne by phone.

The CAO noted Railway Ave. and Main Street remain snow plow priorities, with residential areas set to be plowed when the snow depth builds up to between three and six inches.

Village by-election
Regular readers of the ECA Review will know the Village of Big Valley was placed under the auspices of an OA after two village councillors resigned in November, leaving the village without quorum and unable to conduct business such as paying bills.

The OA will remain in place until a by-election is held to fill the two vacant council seats; provincial law dictates how soon the by-election must be held.

An error occurred in the ECA Review’s coverage of the Dec. 18 Big Valley council meeting; the actual date of the upcoming by-election should have been reported as Feb. 20. Sobolewski passed a resolution pointing this out.

As there are two vacant council seats, a by-election will only be held if there are three or more valid candidates for the two seats. If two or fewer candidates step forward, they will be acclaimed.

It should also be noted Coun. Dan Houle remains on council but plays no role until after the by-election when he can resume his duties.

In related business, Sobolewski also passed a resolution appointing Cheryl Bartley as deputy returning officer for the by-election. Mayne has been appointed as returning officer.

FCSS funding request
Sobolewski approved an FCSS funding request of $2,000 from the Big Valley Ag Society to help defray the cost of public skating at the local arena, along with the Puck and Stick program. The request had come forward previously and had been tabled.

Sobolewski noted at his first council meeting he was hesitant to spend taxpayer money; Mayne noted in her report public skating is a popular local activity and this request had been approved by council in past years.

CAO report
During her regular CAO report Mayne noted nominations are currently open for the two vacant village council seats, with nominations set to close at noon on Jan. 23.

Mayne also notified Sobolewski that the Village of Big Valley is currently without a Public Works foreman, and is in the process of hiring one. However, until a new foreman is hired the County of Stettler has stepped in to help with many important duties that need regular attention, including water and wastewater testing and snow removal.

Mayne added that 2024 is a census year, and the Village of Big Valley will be looking to recruit one or two census workers.

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.