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Mountain View County considers use of emergency livestock handling trailer

Special trailer can be equipped with items that can be used in responding to emergencies such as cattle liner rollovers, barn collapses and barn fires.

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - County council has instructed administration to gather information and input about the possibility of the municipality purchasing and equipping an emergency livestock handling equipment trailer.

The move came by way of motion at a recent Mountain View County council meeting.

Put forward by Coun. Peggy Johnson, the motion reads: “That council request for administration to engage Rocky View County and the local fire departments to determine trailer requirements, cost estimates and operational protocols associated with the development and sharing of an emergency livestock handling equipment trailer with a report to be returned to council for consideration prior to purchase.”

In June the county’s agricultural service board discussed the possibility of having a trailer in the county. The discussion came following a presentation by the Alberta Farm Animal Care organization, with board members then recommending that council consider the matter.

The trailers are typically equipped with tools, portable fencing, portable lighting, halters, spools of rope, and other items that can be used in responding to emergencies such as cattle liner rollovers, barn collapses and barn fires. 

There are currently 18 of the trailers operated by various municipalities in the province, including by Red Deer and Rocky View counties. The cost of the trailers typically ranges from between $40,000 and $65,000, council heard.

Mountain View County currently has a livestock emergency evacuation plan as part of its overall emergency response plan. That plan includes a contact list that is maintained for first responders with key contacts for transport, panels, veterinarian services, as well as mutual aid agreements with each surrounding rural municipality which would enable their emergency livestock handling trailers to be accessed in the event of a livestock emergency in the county.

During the recent council meeting, Chris Atchison, director of legislative and agricultural services, says the county has reached out to three neighbouring municipalities to see how often their trailers have been used in recent times.

“Among those three municipalities, over the past three year it has been used three times. It is also used occasionally for demonstrations at livestock events,” he said.

Coun. Dwayne Fulton said, “This is kind of a gold-plated standard. Sometimes by the time it was able to respond to an incident it might be well past the point of using it.”

Coun. Johnson said, “Certainly in any kind of emergency, time is of the essence so I think having something close by rather than having to contact Red Deer County and borrow theirs would certainly be pretty important. If it was close by it obviously would be more timely. It’s not a matter of if we will need it but when. I think it is a good investment.”

Coun. Greg Harris said Mountain View County having its own trailer could prove useful.

“It has a use in disaster-type situations where animals may not be able to be easily transported, to be able to contain them. I know it is a lot of money for something that sits but it is just one of those costs, so I think I would support it.”

Reeve Angela Aalbers said she would not support the county getting its own trailer.

“I think we continually see how we are agriculturally based and I think we have a number of private agriculture landowners spread across the county and a number of  people who would be more than happy to help us out if we had an issue,” said Aalbers.

Coun. Johnson’s motion did not include a specific time when administration will report back to council.

Dan Singleton

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