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MVC guts dust control program

Mountain View County has dramatically reduced its dust control program for 2011, eliminating council project roads ñ budgeted at $325,000 ñ and ending the free service provided last year to residents living within 50 metres of a gravel road.

Mountain View County has dramatically reduced its dust control program for 2011, eliminating council project roads ñ budgeted at $325,000 ñ and ending the free service provided last year to residents living within 50 metres of a gravel road.The new strategy will retain the cost-sharing arrangement for residents who request dust control ñ a number that currently sits at 91 but is expected to at least double now that the free service has been cancelled for 230 residents who qualified.The county will also continue to apply calcium to haul roads leading from county gravel pits, but at a reduced application rate, bringing the budgeted cost down from $100,000 to $81,000. And it will set aside $30,000 for dust control safety and emergent needs to address issues that might arise with the elimination of project roads.The policy shift followed a lengthy discussion last Wednesday prior to council passing its 2011 operating and capital budget.While Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good's motion to eliminate free dust control to eligible residences was approved without debate, Reeve Paddy Munro and other councillors did question whether applying calcium chloride to some project roads was deemed essential to maintain their base integrity.Operational services director Steve McInnis responded that it was difficult to say because all the roads had been identified by past councillors for dust control in their respective divisions.Some of the roads were targeted for base stabilization and some were chosen because they were used as shortcuts to provincial highways, McInnis said.ìWe'll monitor those roads and see how they hold up,î McInnis said, adding that the risk of base deterioration after one year was minimal.Div. 4 Coun. Bruce Beattie's motion to eliminate council project roads was carried unanimously, and the followup motion by Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere to allocate $30,000 to address resulting safety and other issues was also adopted, but with Good opposed.Good suggested the county should budget $100,000 instead.ìWhat we're forgetting is the fact that road stabilization is a big asset,î he said. ìNot for dust, not for safety. It's to maintain the asset Ö I don't say spend it all, but don't degrade the base.îKemmere's motion to retain the cost-sharing dust control program received unanimous support, with the former reeve pointing out that the program was the single model used by the county until last year, when the free service was introduced.ìThis is Mountain View County's model. This is the best model,î he said.Under the program, the county covers the cost of application and the resident pays for the cost of the material. In 2010, that worked out to about $570 for the resident and $280 for the county, McInnis said, calling it a 70-30 split.ìThis is probably a reasonable compromise,î Beattie said.Council's focus on dust control was noted by Jack Macklin, one of only two residents to attend last week's budget meeting.ìThe simple way to alleviate dust control is to stay off the roads,î Macklin said during his short presentation. ìThe grader comes along and undoes all the good work you've done.ìI suggest you do the roads properly to start with then stay off them and you'll have a lot less dust control. The problem is too much grading.îMacklin also urged council to shift its emphasis from building up market roads at the expense of side roads, which he said have been neglected for decades in some cases, and complained about snow being pushed up against rural mailboxes.ìThose are federal boxes, not statues,î he said.Reg Watson also addressed council briefly, saying a county map that appeared in a recent issue of the Gazette, showing the number of the subdivisions taken out to date, ìscared the hell out of me.îWhile the reeve said the map was misleading because it magnified small subdivisions such as single parcels out, Good told Watson: ìYou have a right to be scared. The accurate numbers (of subdivided acres taken out) were presented in the Gazette. It is scary.îìThe scariest thing,î Macklin chimed in, ìwas that industrial subdivision at 2 and 27. That was the worst decision ever made. Some of the best farmland in Alberta and you've got two guys there.î