M.D. of Taber ex­am­ine new road ban rule changes due to pan­demic

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Alberta -

BY COLE PARKINSON AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PER GROUP

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment has changed a few reg­u­la­tions in re­gards to com­mer­cial trucks bring­ing es­sen­tial ma­te­ri­als dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Dur­ing the Mu­nic­i­pal District of Taber’s reg­u­lar meet­ing held on April 14, coun­cil ques­tioned how these changes would af­fect the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and their in­fra­struc­ture.

Some of the rules be­ing changed in­clude longer work­ing hours for driv­ers (as long as safety rules are be­ing main­tained), in­creased weight of loads some ve­hi­cles can carry, ex­emp­tion from road bans and ex­emp­tion from mu­nic­i­pal by­laws that put re­stric­tions on the hour’s driv­ers work and where they can park.

“The prov­ince has an­nounced some changes to weight re­stric­tions. How is that go­ing to af­fect this?” asked Coun. Brian Brewin.

“My­self and CPO Peters sat in on the meet­ing on Thurs­day to ba­si­cally hear the So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral and the gov­ern­ment changes on some of those bans as it rolls out,” replied Kirk Hughes, CAO sergeant and direc­tor of com­mu­nity safety. “As you are prob­a­bly aware, it has to do with some of those trucks who park in places we nor­mally don’t al­low them to park in. A lot of it has to do with ex­tended hours and some over­weight loads.”

Hughes also ex­plained the rules will be brought for­ward to ad­min­is­tra­tion for fur­ther im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“From there, we will pass it to the CAO to de­ter­mine our en­force­ment strat­egy mov­ing for­ward,” said Hughes. “A lot of the peo­ple we have spo­ken to have been pretty good at fol­low­ing the rules. I think it is a mat­ter of de­ter­min­ing what the gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties are and en­sur­ing those pri­or­i­ties match those with the M.D. of Taber. We can work that out to­gether with the CAO. And then ed­u­ca­tion and an en­force­ment strat­egy.”

With es­sen­tial ser­vices be­ing ex­empt, coun­cil also brought for­ward the ques­tion around what is con­sid­ered es­sen­tial and what’s not.

“They are talking about es­sen­tial ser­vices be­ing ex­empt. I guess what the ques­tion is, is what is an es­sen­tial ser­vice? Some of the con­cern in cen­tral Al­berta is a lot of their crops haven’t got off from last fall and they are try­ing to seed and har­vest at the same time. Have you got a def­i­ni­tion of that yet?” asked Brewin.

“We don’t (know). I don’t think the gov­ern­ment has (a def­i­ni­tion) for es­sen­tial ser­vices. How­ever, the in­for­ma­tion passed down to my peace of­fi­cers is that, and it will con­tinue to be, that com­mon sense ap­proach. We are in un­prece­dented times and what we don’t need is any more eco­nomic im­pact, more than what we are al­ready see­ing, in the M.D. We will make sure that as long as the ve­hi­cle it­self is safe and can be driven on the road, and things aren’t grossly over­weight to the point of dam­ag­ing our in­fra­struc­ture,” an­swered Hughes, who also touched on the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try which plays a large part in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. “I would say farm­ers and seed­ers would be num­ber one on that list, next to the emer­gency ser­vices them­selves.”

While these new rules from the United Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment will be im­ple­mented, there is still the dan­ger of dam­ages to M.D. of Taber in­fra­struc­ture. With that in mind, an­other ques­tion around who would be re­spon­si­ble for pay­ing for any dam­ages that may oc­cur was present.

“If some­body chooses to go 100 per cent us­ing the pro­vin­cial guide­lines and ruins one of our roads, who is left on the hook for that road?” asked Brewin.

“I think once the prov­ince passes down some more in­for­ma­tion and some more solid di­rec­tion, we will have that in­for­ma­tion for you,” replied Hughes. “As it stands, our road bans have been put in place, as you are aware, to pro­tect our in­fra­struc­ture.”

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