The report is in! Big Lakes County grader operations make the grade!

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Grader services on roads within Big Lakes County have made the grade – according to a report from a consultant.

At its regular meeting April 24, council approved the final report on the level of service for grader operations as requested by council last year.

RI Engineering and Environmental senior engineer Ian Cosh completed the review and report presented by Kevin Cymbaluk, director of operations for the County.

“The current service delivery model is working well and is the result of many decades of incremental refinement, including formal and informal benchmarking,” Cosh writes in the conclusion of the 36- page report.

“This is anticipated to be within a negligible margin of the best technical solution to the current needs for Big Lakes County to provide this core service.”

He acknowledges the staff who have built the current service delivery model.

Big Lakes CAO David Reynolds says the report gives the County a good grade.

“The report says what we’re doing now is efficient and effective,” he says.

Those words were echoed by Kevin Cymbaluk, director of operations.

“The review determined that grader operations at the County are generally efficient and effective,” Cymbaluk wrote as he summed up the report in his report to council.

“However, this would be highly dependent upon contract pricing.”

The existing distribution of beats with five internal beats with two external beats has been shown to be efficient, he said.

“Additional privatization of grader beats is not required to achieve the current level of service established in policy,” Cymbaluk noted.

Grader services are set out in policy as approved by council.

“Should council desire to change an existing beat to contracted delivery, the recommended grader beats would be Enilda-Joussard and Faust-Kinuso,” Cymbaluk said.

“These are the most remote and can be more difficult to service out of the High Prairie shop.”

A suggestion by Heart River – Salt Prairie Councillor Garrett Zahacy to cut the beats to six from seven was not supported by most council.

Kinuso Councillor Roberta Hunt said one person told her the service on one local road is inadequate.

“It’s not being graded enough,” Hunt said.

South Gilwood – Sunset House Councillor Ann Stewart supported the status quo.

“The number of graders we now use is effective and efficient,” she said.

Council and administration discussed the draft report with Cosh at a workshop March 14 where council requested further information.

“Should developing industry capacity for road grading be a strategic goal of council, it is expected that this core service could be outsourced at higher costs compared to delivering the service internally as is currently being done,” the conclusion cited.

“Contracting additional beats is not anticipated to result in savings.

“This would be anticipated to have wide-ranging impacts within the organization based on the extent to which additional beats are privatized.”

The flexibility and control changes would be significant and the cost efficiency and day-to-day operations of other county programs that share resources would be impacted.

“It s also not recommended to have fewer beats,” the conclusion stated.

Going forward, Koch suggested the County gauge interest from citizens in changing the level of service for grading and snowplowing private driveways and road maintenance.

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