County upgrades its fencing standards to 5-wire

Ponoka County council has increased fencing standards from four to five-wire fencing.

Ponoka County council has increased fencing standards from four to five-wire fencing.

The increase will come at no cost to farmers and landowners. However, if they also want a steel gate installed it will cost $200.

Council was already fixing current five-wire fences with the same standards but is now getting requests for upgrades from landowners with four-wire.

“It curries a lot of favour,” said CAO Charlie Cutforth.

Cutforth said the county is lucky and has good relationships with landowners.

“It (five-wire fencing) also keeps those little calves off the road,” said Coun. Paul McLauchlin.

However, if landowners want to remain with four-wire fencing they can.

Scare cannon request

Council has put Shayne Steffen, manager of ag services, in charge of contacting the Alberta Conservation Association to request bird scare cannons for county farmers.

At its Sept. 25 meeting council was hesitant to become involved with the scare cannons. They don’t want to purchase the cannons and instead want Alberta Conservation to offer them for free.

Council also doesn’t want the cannons to become a big responsibility for them.

Cutforth said the farmers already handle their own pest control and weeds, why should the birds be any different.

However, Coun. George Verheire thought the crops and farmers need protecting. “I’m 50/50 on this one. I think we should take them on this one.”

The Alberta Conservation Association hasn’t contacted Ponoka County about the scare cannons but has contacted Red Deer and Stettler counties.

Not all the groundwork has been laid but council is thinking of renting the cannons to the farmers with a damage deposit and having them pay for their own propane.

Fire ban in effect

Effective Sept. 26 Ponoka County is under a fire ban.

McLauchlin says it’s not only the dry fields that are a concern, but also the high winds that have become a pattern for this time of year.

Active fire permits are no longer viable.

The ban will be in effect until it rains or snows significantly.

Land reclamation

A 10-acre parcel of land southwest of Ponoka, which is owned by the county, is being purchased by an adjacent landowner.

The buyer offered $20,000 per acre and all responsibility for consolidation and reclamation for the land will be passed to him from the county.

According to Cutforth the 10 acres doesn’t have much farm value. He also says the land owner isn’t planning on developing the land. But if it were developed the road access would need to be upgraded.

Cutforth says the 10-acre parcel is a “party area for kids” and now the new landowner will be able to control the area.

No big budget concerns

The year is three-quarters of the way done and council is sitting in a healthy place regarding their budget.

“Overall we’re in very good shape,” said Cutforth.

Cutforth’s only concern is drilling permits. “That one is sort of like chasing smoke.”

The council budgeted $600,000 for the permits and has received $300,063.

The county has received all their provincial grants, with exception of the STEP grant. This puts the County close to their budget amount in total municipal revenues.

As of Aug. 31 council hasn’t surpassed budget in any area. However, it was acknowledged by council that September was a construction-heavy month and expenditures in that area ongoing.

Possible bridge removal

Alberta Transportation is questioning the ownership and removal of a bridge in Ponoka County.

The bridge is located on the Battle River, approximately one mile north of Highway 53 and west of Secondary Highway 795.

According to Cutforth Alberta Transportation wanted to absolve the province of all responsibility of the bridge.

Wayne Lloyd, a landowner who used the bridge to check his pastures, approached council about the bridge. However, there was never an agreement for transfer of ownership, which is the document Alberta Transportation is seeking. The bridge still technically belongs to Ponoka County.

The bridge, which is restricted and in bad condition, is not on an active road but a trail still leads to the bridge, which people are using despite the locks on the bridge, which are being cut.

Cutforth sees only two possibilities for the road. “It’s in very shaky condition and so the liability level is very high.”

Cutforth believes if the county applied for cancellation of road allowance to the bridge Alberta Transportation will order its removal. “I suspect they will order its removal anyway.”

Because it’s a county structure it could also be banned but Cutforth believes Alberta Transportation will want it removed.

Council estimated it would cost approximately $250,000 to reset the bridge.