By Cole Parkinson
The possibility of bringing water to White Ash Road is still on the table.
After discussing the factors of bringing water to the area at the last regular meeting, Municipal District of Taber councillors were brought further information on the issue at council’s regular meeting on Aug. 27.
With a letter submitted from Ian and Kelly Armstrong in favour of moving forward with water and a letter from John and Isabel Nordquist against it, council decided they would need more information before moving forward any further.
One council request was to bring back the area structure plan for council review.
“Staff did some research and they did find the two restrictive covenants on those lots up there,” said interim CAO Doug Henderson. “There is no area structure plan bylaw for that area as far as we could find. The SDA (Subdivision and Development Authority) has only looked at the restrictive covenants and used that as guidelines in their decision making. As far as I know, municipal council is not bound to restrictive covenants. There are guidelines but you don’t enforce them.”
While the Armstrong’s letter pointed to resident’s needs for water on White Ash Road, the letter from the Nordquists highlighted concerns around more weeds from irrigation water, fear of erosion, financial implications and the fact there is a covenant on their acreage.
“We don’t want to see large ditches dug and land disturbed in order to accommodate the piping required for such a water co-op project,” stated the letter.
“We have been on our acreage for 28 years and see the major negative effects of ground disturbance, ie. noxious weeds in abundance on different acreages over the years.”
With present M.D. council and prior councils over the past several years dealing with similar requests, current councillors were also worried about the money needed to get the project off the ground.
“There are quite a few factors that are involved in this. We’ve talked about Johnson’s Addition for how many years to get water? That has been a cost barrier so I don’t know if we treat this the same. Do we have a meeting to investigate or not? I think at this point there are no available dollars and I don’t have anything official from the town and I don’t see anything here that indicates that either,” said Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.
“The other question is — what are the residents willing to pay? If it is going to be $500,000 a resident, is that worth it to them? Probably not,” added Coun. Jen Crowson.
Other questions raised were around who would take care of the long term maintenance and the effects on nearby coulee banks.
If the large majority of White Ash residents were in favour of moving forward with this type of project, council was in agreement with having a geotechnical study done to figure out if the area can handle an increased amount of water.
With a significant cost expected for a potential project to supply White Ash Road with water, council questioned whether there would be any chance of gaining a grant.
“I think the odds of getting any grant in the near future is small,” answered Henderson, who also pointed out other municipalities would likely have financial information on costs. “I’m sure somebody has got numbers out there in the south. I know Cypress was looking at this a couple of years ago and probably 40 Mile. There are probably numbers out there that we can find to ballpark it.”
The M.D. had also done studies in the Barnwell/Johnson’s Addition and Vauxhall areas for these types of projects which would give them a good idea of what to expect.
“Right now, I don’t think the M.D. is in a position to pay for this development,” said Miyanaga.
The next immediate step council wanted to make was to fully gauge interest from all residents on White Ash Road to get a better idea of who was in favour and who was not.
As part of this, they wanted to make sure information was also sent along to give them a better chance to shape their opinion on whether or not it was a good idea.
“I think we can give them the information and if they want to move ahead with it, the ball is in their court to start a co-op or whatever they want to do. I think that is a good start,” said Coun. Leavitt Howg.
A motion was made for M.D. of Taber administration to provide correspondence to the residents on White Ash Road with information regarding raw water services, and was carried unanimously.