A recent decision by the Alberta government is causing concern about highway corridors, with some particularly irritating flora at the root of it.
During their regular June 14 meeting, the Municipal District of Taber council was informed of the province’s decision to not mow or spray secondary highways.
“Mowing, spraying or, in some cases, handpicking the noxious weeds,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D.
“There is nothing worse then spraying your fields, only to watch weeds creep in from the roads,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D.
Generally speaking, each municipality is solely responsible for roads in their jurisdiction, with the exception of highway, which are managed by Alberta Transportation.
According to information provided by administration, every year the M.D. spends about $350,000 on weed chemical, equipment and labour in order to prevent its roads as weed-free as possible, and farmers within the M.D. spend many times more than that to combat weeds on their property. The province is a land owner within the M.D., but has not performed its own weed control since 2014.
“This is a safety issue,” said Bob Wallace, M.D. councillor. “Just because they said they won’t mow the roads, doesn’t mean that the weeds and the grass aren’t going to grown there, so it is an issue for our residents.”
Weeds, particularly those of a prohibited noxious (Giant Hogweed, St. John’s Wort, Medusahead) or noxious (Blueweed, Tansy, Baby’s Breath) variety, along highway corridors are not only troublesome for the farmers next door and travellers in the area, it also poses a serious safety risk.
If left unchecked, these weeds can grow tall enough to block car views, and since in the M.D., there is usually a road crossing the highway every mile, a driver’s vision could be severely impaired by the weeds. Additionally, the weeds could attract more animals to the side of the highway, leading to more accidents.
Administration has requested that the Department of Transportation, under the province’s Weed Act, to mow their secondary highways. When asked how he felt about the odds of it happening, Krizsan said it was “pretty darn good”.
“The Crown is bound by the act,” Krizsan explained.”The issuance of the Weed Control Act, is to primarily to deal with the kind of noxious weed; the fact that it will be mowed will serve as a dual purpose to address safety issues as well.”