Public works superintendent Herb Schwingel presented his monthly report to council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 24 with a focus on the work that will be done this summer.
Work is expected to start later this year on upgrading a mile of Township Road 420 in the Chain Lakes area to improve access for the residents on the currently low grade trail, while the county is considering moving over to work on the 2.5 miles of Range Road 273 (Dakota Road) as Schwingel isn’t confident they will get wetlands approval for a project that was planned on RR 282 west of Crestomere.
Other road work that needs to be done is chip sealing on a number of county roads, though Schwingel stated the job on Arbor Park Road could be larger than first thought as the road base is creating issues and it’s likely they may have to dig up and rebuild some of the soft spots.
And council heard that the county’s three used graders each sold for between $40,000 and $50,000 less than the $315,000 that was guaranteed by the auction company. Schwingel stated that was pretty good since the grader market wasn’t great in spite of the auction attracting a record number of items and sales.
County councillor Doug Weir expressed to council a concern about buildings being constructed at a couple of cattle CFOs (confined feeding operations) that seem to be very close to each other and wondered what the county can do considering what seems to be obvious issues with fire and safety regulations. He added that anyone in the county should have a building and/or development permit to ensure they meet the necessary regulations, which would also help to possibly mitigate the potential of insurance rates rising.
Cutforth explained, though, that, unfortunately, the county has no legal recourse as CFOs are regulated strictly by the province’s Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB).
“While they do notify the county of what is taking place when an application is made and we can submit an objection should we have one, but we are also not privy to if any objections are made,” Cutforth said.
“As for the fire code regulations, that’s a good question as there have been a couple of incidents in recent years.”
Cutforth added that making everyone in the county wanting to construct certain buildings would be possibly onerous as farmers only need a permit if it meets certain criteria and it may not work as some people don’t bother getting a permit anyway.
Council went back to rectify a couple of items that were missed during discussions in the past month.
They approved $7,000 in funding to the Rimbey Historical Society, part of the county’s annual contribution to certain community non-profits. Councillor Nancy Hartford brought up the oversight in not including the money during their 2016 budget discussion, after mistakenly thinking they had given the group the money when not approving the society’s $90,000 capital project request.
Cutforth also brought forward an amendment to the county’s recently passed fire protection bylaw to fix a regulation regarding the use of flashing green lights by firefighters.
The bylaw, which was approved on April 26, originally stipulated that only county firefighters were allowed to use the flashing green lights while responding to a emergency call in Ponoka County. The lights are to notify other motorists that a firefighter is responding to a call and to please give them the right-of-way on the road in order for them quickly and safely get there.
However, as much of the bylaw used regulations similar to those in other provincial jurisdictions – including the Town of Ponoka – Cutforth explained the intention was never to limit the use of the lights to only county firefighters and that this change was missed in the originally bylaw.
The amendment now clarifies that all fulltime and volunteer firefighters are allowed to operate the flashing green lights in the county while responding to an emergency call.