The County of Stettler’s road maintenance responsibilities may increase if a new agreement is reached with Alberta Transportation.
The municipality received a letter on March 6 requesting they take over gravel maintenance on secondary highways within the county in return for an annual payment each May.
Currently, the province contracts maintenance of primary and secondary highways within the county to Carillion Canada. Carillion PLC, the corporation’s parent company, filed for insolvency in January, while the Canadian affiliate has since been awarded creditor protection.
The Alberta Government has also provided $8.9 million to the company in the spring budget to ensure they’re able to complete their winter maintenance responsibilities.
If the county takes over the secondary highways, this will add about 113 kms of gravel highways to the maintenance schedule. These roads are identified by three numbers, and include Hwys 589, 590, 593, 594, 601, 835, 850, 851, 852 and 853.
To put that into perspective, the county is already responsible for about 2,653 kilometres of roads.
A meeting with county staff and Alberta Transportation officials was held in Hanna on March 7, where issues about the proposal were discussed. Some concerns revolved around the current standard of gravel on secondary highways, and the potential for additional funding upfront to bring these roads up to county’s standard.
Costs for bridge repairs, weed control, roadside mowing, dust control, snow-plowing and extra equipment were also highlighted during this meeting. Finally, road ban and haul permit authority on secondary roads and the length of a potential agreement would also need to be worked out.
In 2001, the province took over the responsibility for maintenance of secondary highways from the municipalities. This would essentially reverse that decision, if negotiations come to fruition. If so, the agreement would take effect this month to fall in line with the fiscal year that began on April 1.
Following the discussion during their March 14 meeting, council passed a motion to enter into further negotiations, provided the additional responsibilities do not cause a financial burden to County ratepayers.
Central east and south east gravel contracts
County council also discussed taking over two of their gravel contracts for supply and spreading during their March 14 meeting.
In September 2017, council voted to tender out the central east and south east gravel contracts. Last November administration came back to council looking for additional direction.
During their March meeting council decided to not tender out the contracts, and instead budget the routes into the county gravel program.
A motion was passed to complete the spread in these areas using their own gravel supplies, with an opportunity to contract individual trucking firms to help with hauling the material.