Wheatland sponsored road maintenance resolution passes at RMA
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