‘Squatters Road’ group urges M.D. to save second access

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A delegation of M.D. residents from the Eating Creek area made a plea to M.D. council last week to work with the owner of an unimproved road to keep it open. Edie Klassen, the group’s spokesperson, called it ‘Squatters Road.’
This is a 600-metre stretch of road on private land held by Cardinal Energy under some sort of lease. Cardinal has offered to turn the road over to the M.D. for a dollar, and would contribute $7,000 to the cost of upgrading it.
Klassen’s main point was that the second access/egress for the residents is vitally important.
“We’re in a trap,” she said.
The group’s predicament got some sympathy from council.
“Nobody has to tell me the importance of a second access,” said councillor Robert Esau. “If there are no roads, there are no communities.”
It’s not the first time the issue has arisen, and the M.D. has been unwilling to take over the lease. Klassen asked why not.
“We end up paying for a road across private land,” said CAO Allan Winarski, adding it could “end up as a benchmark” for other similar situations in the M.D.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that the ownership of the quarter across which the road passes is in the names of 13 people. Sorting out any transfer might be quite difficult and is clearly not something the M.D. relishes.
In council’s subsequent discussion on the matter, transportation director Bill Klassen said the estimated cost of upgrading the stretch of road was $50,000. Winarski suggested the M.D. negotiate with Cardinal “in good faith,” to see what kind of an agreement can be reached.
“You can,” said Klassen, somewhat pessimistically, “but I don’t think we’ll get any further than we are right now.”
Right now is the offer of the seven grand from the oil company, which it had budgeted for putting up a couple of gates on the road, which it no longer needs or wants. In fact it had gone as far as blocking the road, but reopened it after an outcry by residents.
Council passed a motion directing administration to negotiate with Cardinal.
Signing authority policy
In other M.D. council news, council approved a new policy on signing authority. It formalizes what has been in practice, laying out all the ‘dos and don’ts’, who can do what and how much and so on.
“We’re making sure the rules are clear,” said finance director Jason Warawa.
Board reports
Ag Service Board: councillor Sandra Melzer reported that the 2018 business plan has been finalized and the roadside spraying contract has been awarded (Accurate Vegetation).
Athabasca Regional Waste: Melzer said the books passed the audit with flying colours. Plastic is being stockpiled “until something is figured out.”
Councillor Esau added that news of a Canmore cement plant being approved for coal “struck me as funny.”
Slave Lake Regional Housing: councillor Brad Pearson said that organization’s audit was also good. A bit of surplus from 2017 went into reserves. The fate of 14 ‘recovery’ trailers in Lynnwood was still “in limbo.”
Municipal Planning Commission: councillor Jeff Commins reported that the MPC approved an extension on a three-lot subdivision by Five-Mile Hill. Through the process, the M.D. acquires a chunk of lakefront property as municipal reserve.
Commins said the MPC turned down a subdivision application – this one from the Smith area – because it didn’t meet the criteria.

The road in question: a hot potato nobody wants responsibility for.

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