At their last regular meeting, Northern Sunrise Country council reviewed a letter regarding the new United Conservative Party government’s platform promise to make changes to how road permits are managed in Alberta.
“Roadata has become aware of a component of the UCP Campaign Platform that has significant impact to Municipalities in Alberta,” wrote Nicole Wright, General Manager of Roadata Services Ltd.
The UCP had promised in their party platform to reclassify service rigs as offroad vehicles, such as farm equipment; replace rural road permits with an annual provincial permit; and reclassify service rigs as provincial carriers even when crossing provincial lines.
“I have spoken with Kim Durdle at Alberta Transportation and confirmed that yes, a review is currently underway,” Wright wrote. “She said that there were rumblings that a decision may be made as early as this week. I have also spoken with a Senior Policy Advisory with the Office of Traffic Safety and she indicated that consultation with stakeholders may not occur as this policy changed was clearly outlined in the UCP’s Platform and as such, that was the consultation period.”
“Right now we dictate which roads they can use and we get the overweight permits approved here,” said Mike Konowalyk, Director of Public Works for Northern Sunrise County.
“It looks to me like they’re wanting to take the jurisdiction away from us for allowing overweight equipment on our roads and they want to issue an Alberta-wide permit to allow this, and it pretty much takes us out of the look on allowing them where they’re going to go,” he said.
“I’m not really a fan of that because we start doing that, we’re going to have everybody everywhere, and no control.”
“I agree with Mike,” Councillor Dan Boisvert said. “I think if you remember that baling plant in Nampa, they were running through our back roads and basically they had no rules. They could be wide, they could be whatever so this opens that can of worms. I’m wondering what do our neighbours think of this, because this is not just going to affect us, it’s going to be widespread.”
“We’re always fairly open with these guys when they phone for a permit and they want to move a service rig, I’m not going to hold them back but I want to have the call to let them know which roads I want them to use, not just pick one and take it,” Konowalyk said.
“There is a fundamental difference between our road structure and central Alberta’s, and southern Alberta’s. Our roads are built on soft muskeg and that can’t be the same across the province and there is a reason why it was under municipal ruling before,” Reeve Carolyn Kolebaba said.
“They’re trying to push this through very quickly and I think we need to react very quickly because this is going to destroy our roads,” said Councillor Corinna Williams.
Northern Sunrise County council passed a motion to send a letter to Alberta Transportation regarding the proposed changes for reclassifying service rigs and replacing rural road permits with provincial permits, outlining the County’s concerns and asking for road permits to remain under municipal control.