M.D. of Lesser Slave River Council notebook

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Planning for bridge replacement
The results are in on a 10-year repair and replacement plan for M.D. bridges and bridge culverts. Not surprisingly, the dollar figures are huge and far beyond the M.D.’s capability.
There are 49 such structures on M.D. roads, council heard. Ten of these need replacing in the next 10 years, for which an estimated $11 million will be required. On the maintenance side, there is $782,000-worth of repairs needed in the next three years (much of it for Tollenaar Bridge). If the M.D. manages to come up with that, it would then be able to settle into an annual maintenance outlay of $50,000. According to the bridge plan (prepared by WSP Engineering), the M.D. should also be salting away $1 million per year into a bridge replacement fund.
The report included a pie chart, showing the ages of M.D. bridges, with each piece of pie representing a decade. The biggest slice is for bridges constructed in the 1950s, with ones from the 1960s and 1980s not far behind. Their estimated lifespan is 60 years.
“We can’t put a million bucks away a year,” said councillor Mike Skrynyk. “The province has to help and they know that.”
“The province is in a tough place,” observed CAO Allan Winarski. “They’ve got all these 1940s bridges. I imagine they’ll probably start shutting some roads down.”
They’ve already started doing it, said reeve Murray Kerik, noting that three such rural bridges have been shut down in Athabasca County.
Council accepted the report as information.

Athabasca Regional Waste
Reporting on the latest meeting of this board, councillor Robert Esau said the budget was ratified, and several summer villages have been approved as members, excluding Sunset Beach.
Councillor Garry Horton added that cardboard has doubled in price – good news for recycling efforts, “and there’s some market starting to show for plastics.”
“But it’s got to be clean,” added Esau.
Esau also said it appears by putting a carbon tax on landfills, it’s a case of one government taxing another government, “because nobody else has landfills.”

Athabasca Watershed Council
Councillor Horton’s opinion of this group has not improved; if anything, it’s gotten worse.
“All they’re doing is trying to get money to send their same little club to these conferences,” he said. “I’m just wasting my time and your money.”

More pounding
Councillor Darren Fulmore brought up the matter of heavy industrial traffic on M.D. roads and bridges. This time it was about some new oil wells east of Fawcett Lake; the product is being hauled out over the East Fawcett Road and the bridge at Smith, he said. No decisions or even proposals were made on the topic.

Pine beetle on the move
Reeve Kerik reported on an Alberta Forest Products Association meeting he’d attended. Big news out of that world is Jasper has been decimated by mountain pine beetle, and more is expected outside the national park.
“They’re fighting hard for more funding,” he said.
Word is the Edson and Slave Lake areas have seen an upswing in pine beetle impact.
“We should hear more about it this summer,”

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