BLC is getting out of ag rental business

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County is going out of the business of renting equipment under the Agricultural Service Board [ASB].
At its regular meeting Dec. 8, council agreed to end the rental program by Dec. 31, 2024.
“It was a recommendation from the agricultural advisory committee,” Reeve Robert Nygaard says.
“We don’t want to compete with other equipment rental businesses.”
The idea was suggested at the Nov. 10 council meeting by North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk, elected to council Oct. 18 for his first term.
“We’re in the rental business when other businesses are available in the county,” said Zabolotniuk, a grain farmer.
“We shouldn’t be in the rental business at all.”
He recognizes the ASB has a mandate to support producers, but still suggested Big Lakes opt out of renting equipment.
Council then referred the issue to the ASB.
Since all and only council members serve on the ASB, the issue was referred to the agricultural advisory committee that met Nov. 17 and made two recommendations to council, which were both approved.
As part of the first recommendation, council will also no longer invest funds into the ASB equipment reserve.
Council also approved a second recommendation that $12,500 remain in the interim budget until a recommendation is presented to council for final budget in spring 2022.
“Previous budgets have allocated $20,000 annually to the ASB equipment reserve to fund the agricultural rental program and the county spray equipment through our legislated duties,” says Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
Since council has decided to end the rental program, funding for the ASB equipment reserve will still need to be allocated for spray equipment and one trailer sprayer, he notes.
The spray equipment is used by county staff to control noxious and prohibited weeds under the Alberta Weed Control Act.
“The reason for keeping the trailer sprayer is if administration has deemed that a resident has a weed or pest problem and given a notice, it is best practice by a municipality to provide the resident with the equipment necessary to remedy the problem,” Hawken says.
“However, we are not legislatively compliant to do so, and residents can buy their own sprayers, rent, or hire local contractors or companies to do the work, but this would be a much higher cost to individuals versus renting from the County.”

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