RM council debates public works schedule

by Phil Ambroziak

The road to spring-like weather has been a bumpy one for the RM of Meadow Lake – both figuratively and literally.

The issue of rural road conditions was raised during RM council’s regular meeting May 8 when public works manager Darwin Schwartz reported a number of roads throughout the municipality remain washed out in the wake of spring runoff and the persistence of wintry weather in recent weeks.

“That’s why I’d like to purchase a tandem gravel truck,” Schwartz said. “I don’t care if it’s an inexpensive one, I just need something to haul dirt. The little dump trailer we have right now can take only about two scoops at a time and you can’t get in there with a semi because the road bans are in place. It’s also hard to back up on some of those side roads.”

Schwartz also presented each member of council with maps of their respective divisions asking for them to prioritize their roads for grading purposes.

“We’ve received a lot of concerns from residents who want us to fix the ruts on their roads, but we’re either going to have to get another grader or people are just going to have to wait their turn,” he said. “We can’t be everywhere all the time.”

Division IV councillor Garry Ratke said it often takes time for the weather to cooperate before roads can be properly maintained.

“Once we get through the spring, we won’t have the problems we’re having now,” he said.

Division V councillor Perry Brookes, however, wasn’t as willing to wait, questioning the amount of hours public works employees dedicate to the roads.

“These 10-hour days do not work in today’s society,” Brookes said.

Schwartz said the graders can’t be operated when the ground is too wet, but Brookes countered by saying there’s nothing stopping workers from going out on weekends or after supper.

“You’d have to pay them overtime,” Schwartz said.

“I’d gladly pay them overtime opposed to having to drive over such deep ruts all the time,” Brookes replied.

Reeve Rodger Zuchotzki said the situation has been unique in recent years because of the arrival of warm weather followed almost immediately by cold and even snow. The reeve also said another reason for poor road conditions could be the amount of gravel provided to the RM last year, adding the municipality may have been “short changed” in terms of the available amount.

“When it’s time to put down gravel again this year, I think we’re going to weigh it to ensure there are a certain amount of dumps per mile or per half-mile,” he said. “The roads need it – that’s why they’re falling apart.”

Following the meeting, Zuchotzki confirmed no decision was made with regard to capital costs, meaning Schwartz will not be getting the truck requested anytime soon.

One Response to “RM council debates public works schedule”
  1. Wes Green says:

    Glad to hear a debate. Any consideration for 2 shift operation during our long summer days?

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