By Cole Parkinson
A local area farming operation is hoping to become a Municipal District of Taber approved contractor.
SLM Spud Farms sent a letter to council requesting to be added to the list and council had a chance to discuss the request during their regular meeting on Aug. 13.
“As a contractor, we would cross roadways for pipelines and culvert. We have plans to install a number of culvert crossings for applying pig manure and irrigation pipelines,” said the letter. “The benefits of SLM Spud Farms being a contractor is it will help us stay cost-effective and it will help the M.D. to maintain roads.”
In the letter, they also stated that all construction would be up to the M.D. of Taber safety and engineering standards.
The M.D. carried the Approved Contractor Policy last August and in the policy six tiers were listed.
Contractors were split into each category based on the type of work they could do which included excavation, road building, approaches and pipelines, excavation, approaches and pipelines, excavation and approaches, boring (pipeline installation), road approaches and snow maintenance (quad tractors and excavators).
In their 2018 list of approved contractors, seven companies were under the first tier, one company under the second tier, four companies in the third tier, one company in the fourth tier, zero in the fifth tier and two in the sixth tier.
“I spoke to Craig (Pittman, director of infrastructure) about this and he said he had reviewed their proof of insurance and WCB (Workers’ Compensation Board) letter, and they meet all of the requirements,” added Candice Robison, administrative clerk. “He says he doesn’t see any concerns here and they will follow up on their work like hey would with anybody else.”
One concern brought up was around the fact the M.D. may receive a lot more approved contractor requests from farming operations in the area.
Currently, only two farms are listed in the September 2018 approved contractor list, both of which are under snow maintenance.
“I’m wondering if we allow this farm to become an accepted contractor, how many more are we going to get? Lots of people have (equipment) on their farms nowadays and are we going to get 20 more requests to become approved contractors from farmers that have the equipment? I’m wondering if we should require approved contractors have a business rather than every farm with a high ho applying,” said Reeve Merrill Harris.
The same concern was shared by Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.
“I too, have the same concern that all of sudden we will have everybody doing it. We also know that some farms and construction companies are intermingled and I don’t know that we can differentiate between business. My worry is, do we create a bunch more work for our public works people? If that is the case, is our policy lacking? Should we have a bond if they are doing that work? That would be one of my concerns,” she said.
Other councillors were more in favour of allowing farms to be on the list, as long as they were qualified and fit the criteria in the policy.
“My concern is these guys put in miles of mainline every year. Probably more mainline than anyone else. I’m not sure it is fair if we are discrediting them because they are a farm. They have the experience. They certainly know what they are doing,” said Coun. Brian Brewin.
“I think as long as all of the conditions are the same and they meet the criteria, it shouldn’t matter who you are,” added Coun. John Turcato.
As part of being an M.D. of Taber approved contractor, companies have to produce documentation annually for liability insurance in the amount of $5 million and proof of WCB coverage.
Turcato pointed out disallowing certain people from being approved contractors would make things more convoluted than they needed to be.
“We don’t want to make it more difficult to do business here. I see this as no different than any other company trying to do business here,” he said. “I think complicating it makes it complicated for no other reason than we are afraid we will get more applications and there is nothing wrong with that.”
With no formal application filled out by SLM Spud Farms, it was suggested that should be the first step taken.
“They haven’t done so yet,” said Coun. Jen Crowson. “Then it goes to staff and they make a recommendation.”
A motion for this to be referred back to the applicant to submit an application, and was carried unanimously by council.