By Cole Parkinson
With the Municipal District of Taber developing a road ban policy and bylaw, a concern was brought forward by a resident.
While first reading of the bylaw had been passed during their March 12 meeting, council brought it back for their April 9 meeting which allowed an M.D. resident to express his issue with some of the wording.
“I’ve got some concerns with the road ban policy. One of them being the form you have to fill out that states all the license plate numbers of the trucks. In the feedlot industry, we have a difficult time knowing exactly what plate number is going to be coming in, especially when they are shipping down to the U.S. We apply for a permit and are given a permit number which would cover those trucks for a particular day’s activity. I am just asking for an amendment to the form to not have the license number but contacting the M.D. for a permit number,” said David Bekkering of TFS Expanse Feedlot.
Another issue Bekkering brought forward was notification of approval for permits as he never heard if his had been approved.
Jeremy Wickson, director of public works, stated emails would be sent back stating whether or not the permits had been approved and in this case, it was a simple misunderstanding in replying to the email.
Council questioned how many exemptions come to the M.D. in a typical year, which Wickson stated it would be between 20 to 30.
“It’s not huge by any means,” added Wickson, who also answered how many of those would be commercial carriers. “I would say 90 per cent.”
“To put the license plate on, is that just so we know it is that truck?” asked Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.
WIckson stated the reason for the license plate numbers was more of a matter of enforcement, both on their end and at the provincial level.
“We have not only the Community Peace Officers but we have Department of Transportation Enforcement officers all over the countryside. They are actually on Highway 3 a lot recently. When they go to pull any kind of permit, and they all have access to TRAVIS (Transportation Routing and Vehicle Information System), so they can pull the specific permit a commercial carrier would have. In the case of an agricultural producer, since they are unique in getting this exemption permit, then this form essentially has this information. I send this to the peace officers so they know if they are concerned about a vehicle being overweight on a roadway,” answered Wickson.
While the license plate portion of the exemption form was added for both, Bekkering wondered if a commercial carrier was being used if license plates would need to be added, especially if a large number of trucks were going to be used.
“For me to list 50 possible plate numbers, it makes no sense. If I could just have the carrier on the form,” he said.
Administration and council were both in agreeance that a carrier name would be suitable instead of having to list all license plate numbers.
“The whole idea of the road ban exemption form was for agricultural producers. So if they were on a banned roadway, they would either have some form of exemption or a form of an approval from the local road authority,” added Wickson.
Bekkering questioned what happens when Wickson is unavailable and how permits would then be handled.
Currently, all permits go to Wickson’s email and he answers them as quickly as possible and he stated almost all get answered before the end of the day.
It was brought up to have a general road ban permit email (firstname.lastname@example.org) which all applicable administration could access in the case of Wickson being unavailable, which council was in favour of.
Council also was in favour of having wording stating there would be a response to the permit in 24 hours.
A motion was made to approve the road ban policy as presented with the permit amended and was carried 4-1 with Coun. John Turcato opposing the motion.
As far as the bylaw was concerned, Turcato wanted to see another amendment to the procedural guideline for activating road bans.
Specifically, Turcato wanted to change a word in the line ‘Council will be advised prior to the placement of a road ban’ with the change being advised to consulted.
The second and third reading was passed 4-1 with Turcato opposing.