Truck route woes shared at council

A delegation of farmers from the County of Stettler came before the Stettler town council on Tuesday, Dec. 16

A delegation of farmers from the County of Stettler came before the Stettler town council on Tuesday, Dec. 16 to plead for an examination of the new truck routes before it destroyed the viability of its seed cleaning plant.

With the new changes to the truck route, farmers coming in from certain directions now have to circle through the town before reaching the plant, instead of being able to head directly to it as before.

As the group, which consisted of county councillor Dave Grover, farmer Bob Anderson and two others, prepared to begin their presentation, town Mayor Dick Richards explained to them that the delegation process did not mean there would be a solution to their issues at the meeting, but instead it could result in town staff being directed to look at the problem to find solutions. Then, citing an unspecified conflict of interest, Richards recused himself, and Deputy Mayor Al Campbell took the mayor’s seat.

The delegation explained the seed cleaning plant is run as a co-operative, and for the past several years had just scraped by. In the last year or two, though, it has managed to turn enough profit that the cooperative has been able to integrate some upgrades to the site.

The concern expressed by the delegation is that the extra few miles through town on the truck route, especially with existing construction, will send farmers to seed cleaning plants in nearby communities like Bashaw or Coronation.

When council pointed out that the trips to Coronation or Bashaw were longer than the additional twists on the Stettler truck route, Anderson and Grover explained that the drive to those plants was still a straight one, not requiring farmers to go through crowded town streets or deal with tight turns against oncoming traffic.

Even if the stretch of road that was once a truck route wasn’t re-established as a truck route, if farmers with a destination of the plant could use the road, the cooperative would appreciate it, Anderson noted. He also pointed out that the homes on the former truck route purchased the homes knowing the property was on truck routes, so to have the change to the route made potentially due to complaints was disconcerting.

Anderson concluded his presentation with a warning for council.

“If we lose this, we’ll never get it back,” he told council. “It’ll never happen again.”

He noted that if the plant closes, the farmers that would be heading into Stettler to do business would be having to go elsewhere, which means less support for other facets of the town’s economy.

Council heard out the party, at times inquiring about the current truck route and issues with the turns. Grover pointed out several turns against traffic where there were no slip-around or turning lanes, and where the turns were uncomfortably tight for bigger trucks that would be transporting the seed.

Council decided to send the matter to staff for examination, but as warned by the mayor, no decision was made.