Refusing to set a precedent, Ponoka County has turned down a pair of road access requests.
At their meeting on June 18, council unanimously voted against motions that called for the county to pay for the construction of two all-weather roads so that the landowners can have vehicle access to those portions of their property.
The first request that was denied came from a landowner in the far northwest reaches of the county — along Range Road 40 just north of Township Road 450.
The property owner was hoping to get about one-quarter mile of a current road allowance upgraded so that a family member could relocate a mobile home to suitable site on the quarter-section. The county estimated the job could cost upwards of $100,000.
While turning it down, council did offer to conduct some brush work along the road allowance — which it does do as normal practice — in hopes that it may assist the landowner with better access.
CAO Charlie Cutforth explained the county has paid none of the access costs if there is a subdivision application.
“On the other hand, to accommodate a residence, the county typically provides about a quarter-mile of road within a year, provided utility agreements are in place and the site is prepped and ready,” he said, noting each request is dealt with on its own merits.
“If it is simply for private access, then the standard is minimized. If it is an all-weather access for snow plowing or a school bus, the average cost for that is about $300,000 per mile. A certain amount of the cost is inherent, but to clarify, this a statutory road allowance and the county is required to provide access to each parcel created. However, it is up to council to determine when and at what priority level.”
Councillors were worried about the setting of a new precedent, not so much the cost.
“My concern is in the precedent,” said Coun. Doug Weir. “In addition, our budget is already done, so do we have the money to do it?”
Cutforth explained if council approved it, the money would be found either within the budget or from reserves.
In the end, council denied paying for the road, but did agree to conduct some brushing of the road allowance as part of its regular maintenance schedule.
The other request, to access land north on RR 261, was also denied because of the expensive nature of having to construct a road through an extensive wetland.
Up the creek
Cutforth provided an update on the erosion of a property along Wolf Creek in Morning Meadows subdivision, but not much as been accomplished to date.
Unfortunately, the job is waiting on the federal fisheries and oceans department and engineering. He did add the county will likely avoid having to conduct extensive fish studies, but it has also turned into a slightly larger project than first thought. The hope is the work will be able to be completed later this year.
Council approved two donations and deferred another request.
St. Michael’s Church cemetery near the county’s eastern border will get up to $8,000 to help fence the area, while Johnson’s Beach residents at Red Deer Lake will get up to $3,000 to purchase a retail playground set to replace an old set in the public beach area.
Meanwhile, a request to help pay for equipment to go on Bluffton School property was deferred, as the county wants more information.