Ponoka County council is considering requiring pre-emptive notices from farming operations and projects with the potential to damage roads.
CAO Charlie Cutforth says farms undertaking plans such as hauling silage and manure along county roads need to phone and acquire a blanket permit first.
“I think these operations need to be climatized to the fact they need to phone the county . . . it’s part of their routine,” said Cutforth.
Along with the phone call and issuing permits, Cutforth says the county will also have to give its blessing based on weather and road conditions.
If a road is being heavily damaged by the hauling, farmers can be re-routed until the damage is repaired or the road isn’t as soft.
In the past, Ponoka County was redirecting traffic and hauling operations from chip sealed roads to gravel roads to preserve the chip seal. However, complaints of unfairness kept coming in.
Giving notice before hauling materials will ensure the county can keep an eye on the operations and the roads so they won’t be continually damaged without being attended to.
The need to give notice applies more to larger, busier, corporate operations producing more materials than smaller “family farm” operations.
However, council doesn’t want to single anybody out as more damaging. “Here’s the difficulty — we don’t want to be in the redirecting farmers just trying to do their business,” said Cutforth.
Before focusing on preventative notices, council also discussed the idea of adding a fee to farming operations that would pay for road damages.
They also believe if every operation were corporate the county would treat them as they do oil and gas operations and bill when damages occur. However variances in size make that option impossible.