Wheat­land spon­sored road main­te­nance res­o­lu­tion passes at RMA

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Patrick Ko­lafa

Wheat­land County has passed a res­o­lu­tion at the Ru­ral Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Al­berta (RMA) con­fer­ence to pres­sure the gov­ern­ment to make it eas­ier to main­tain roads.

The res­o­lu­tion called “Im­pacts of Al­berta Wet­land Pol­icy on the Cost of Main­tain­ing Pub­lic Road In­fras­truc­ture” was passed by a wide mar­gin. Divi­sion 7 Coun­cil­lor Ben Arm­strong pre­sented the res­o­lu­tion.

“Al­berta Wet­land Pol­icy and the Wa­ter Act, out­lines the re­quire­ments that they have any­one who dis­turbs a wet­land and what they have to do to re­fur­bish the wet­land, re­place the wet­land and put money into Ducks Un­lim­ited to pay for dam­ages to wet­lands,” ex­plains Arm­strong. “We don’t have an is­sue with the wa­ter act or that pol­icy, but some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are walk­ing away from road pro­jects be­cause of the ex­tra cost they have to in­cur. We are not talk­ing about brand new roads, we are talk­ing about hav­ing to main­tain roads for the trav­el­ling pub­lic. We are tasked by the Al­berta gov­ern­ment to look after these roads and main­tain them and the cost goes back to our ratepay­ers and it is a huge cost.”

The res­o­lu­tion states: Ru­ral Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Al­berta urge the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta to mod­ify the Al­berta Wet­land Mit­i­ga­tion Direc­tive to al­low all wet­land im­pacts as a re­sult of mu­nic­i­pal road main­te­nance or re-build­ing of ex­ist­ing roads to uti­lize a one to one ra­tio, or D to D value wet­land re­place­ment; and/or con­sider ex­empt­ing all wet­land im­pacts in road right of ways that are smaller than one hectare in size.”

Arm­strong says in one in­stance to re­build a road near Duck Lake they were look­ing at $70,000 in en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies be­fore they even touch the road.

“It’s an ex­ist­ing road, all we are try­ing to do is get ac­cess for a landowner to his prop­erty in the spring and the fall. In the spring he has no ac­cess un­less he goes over pri­vate prop­erty,” said Arm­strong.

He says the in­tent is not to by­pass these reg­u­la­tions on ma­jor new road de­vel­op­ments but sim­ply to main­tain and re­pair ex­ist­ing roads.

“We are just ask­ing them to back off the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and let us do our job on ex­ist­ing roads,” he said. “For brand new roads where we are dis­turb­ing na­tive grasses, then fine we’ll go through the whole process, but roads that were built 50 years ago that need main­te­nance, we have to be able to go through them,” he said.

Now that the res­o­lu­tion has been ac­cepted in prin­ci­ple by the Al­berta Ru­ral Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties As­so­ci­a­tion, it be­comes a lob­by­ing point to bring for­ward to the gov­ern­ment. It will ex­pire in De­cem­ber 2021.

“Our as­so­ci­a­tion will take that res­o­lu­tion and present it to gov­ern­ment and carry our case for­ward. The gov­ern­ment will look at it and see if it is vi­able,” said Arm­strong.

He adds the county met with the Min­is­ter of In­fras­truc­ture at the con­fer­ence and pre­sented their case.

Ben Arm­strong… Divi­sion 7 Coun­cil­lor Wheat­land County

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