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Road ban season is upon us

Posted on March 20, 2019 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

The Municipal District of Taber is preparing for the spring and road conditions as administration has brought forward a road ban policy.

After council requested the development of a policy regarding road bans, administration got to work on a policy and an updated bylaw.

“The policy and bylaw before you come out of different pieces of legislation whether it’s Traffic Safety Act, the MGA and Commercial Vehicle legislation. The policy and the bylaw is meant to also encapsulate what the province is doing,” explained Jeremy Wickson, director of public works at council’s regular meeting on Mar. 12.

When spring hits, hard road surfaces and the hays block are banned at 75 per cent while gravel surfaces are set at 90 per cent.

One of the bigger additions was around a ban exemption permit.

“One of the other portions I did tie into this was to create a ban exemption permit request for agriculture purposes. It is basically a two-page, stand form that we would implement,” added Wickson.

The crux of the policy is to address fair access to farms located on banned M.D. of Taber local highways while also protecting the roadway from damage.

The bylaw also addresses the process of putting a road ban in place.

In Bylaw No. 1946, it states “the director of public works, or his designate, is hereby authorized to enter into Road Use Agreements or issue Overweight Permits on behalf of the Municipal District of Taber.”

“When I was researching this, there is typically two ways municipalities handle road bans. Sometimes they designate a committee as part of council that basically deliberates on if they place road bans and at what per cent. The most common was designated to the municipal administrator. In a lot of situations, it is directed straight to public works or infrastructure and they activate the road bans accordingly. They then inform council they are putting a road ban in place,” said Wickson.

One concern brought up to administration from Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga was around the fact she was worried about implementing another enforcement document.

“This should be viewed as a means to protect our infrastructure versus an enforcement document,” explained Craig Pittman, director of infrastructure. “There is an enforcement side to it, of course, to make sure people are going through the process.”

The current bylaw in place for road bans, Bylaw No. 1602 was passed in March 1994.

“I think it is important to (review) a bylaw that is over 20 years old,” added Coun. Jen Crowson.

One aspect brought up was the lack of council involvement in calling for a road ban.

“I think it is important, like the fire ban policy, to keep part of the political in there as well. I think it is a second check or balance on that. Just having that second set of eyes is important. Other than that, I don’t see anything wrong with this policy or bylaw,” said Coun. John Turcato.

A motion for first reading was passed 5-1 with Coun. John Turcato opposing the motion. Coun. Brian Brewin was absent from the meeting.

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