Original Published on Aug 18, 2022 at 17:00

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Stettler county council approved a large paving tender at Buffalo Lake after a debate that included references to an “event” that included a resident’s apology for vandalism and concerns over municipal staff safety at the lake. The approval was made at the Aug. 10 regular council meeting.

The item under discussion was called “maintenance paving tender” and introduced by Director of Operations Rick Green and in his report he noted the tender, which was publicly advertised, included both repairs to pavement at Rochon Sands Heights, which he also noted was previously known as Buffalo View Estates.

Green noted part of the tender included repairs to asphalt related to the county staff looking for water leaks along with a hole cut to dig up a drain line for a sump pump. 

Additionally, part of a nearby road has to be repaired after a sewer truck was driving on it while overloaded, installation of some speed bumps and several pathway paving projects.

Coun. Justin Stevens voiced concern over one pathway project he referred to as the schedule C path; Stevens stated developers have expressed interest in that area and wondered if doing any work there was premature, adding that it didn’t seem like a vital project. 

“It’s a pathway to a gravel road,” said Stevens.

Coun. James Nibourg stated he thought that pathway paving was part of an area structure plan commitment, but staff noted it was part of a conceptual plan and not necessarily a final plan. 

Nibourg stated he felt the project should go ahead because it’s affordable and increases safety.

At this point of the discussion it was noted the County of Stettler suffered a delay on this project because of an “event” that occurred “last week” at Buffalo Lake; it was also inferred that county staff lost at least an entire day and that some Public Works equipment may have to be inspected.

Nibourg, apparently referring to the “event,” stated the person responsible for “the event” should be held financially responsible for it and accused the person as behaving like “a spoiled brat.”

Several councillors and staff commented on how Stettler County’s staff safety can be guaranteed.

County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy stated community peace officers could be sent out to the lake, while the RCMP could also be requested to attend the work site.

Reeve Larry Clarke stated that if the project is cancelled, other residents are penalized. The reeve also pointed out the community association had input into the project and that needs to be publicized.

Nibourg, referring to “dangerous antics” of a “spoiled brat,” also stated other residents shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a few.

Coun. Stevens suggested getting the community association involved so that an event, “…doesn’t escalate again.”

Coun. Ernie Gendre agreed with the reeve that the project should go forward. 

“We do have to make a stand for the betterment of the community,” said Gendre.

Green, speaking from a staff point of view, said he, “…understands concerns for safety up there” but county staff are proud of the work they’ve done and want to finish it. However, it doesn’t sound very friendly. 

“We’ve been getting fingered up there…it’s hard to keep going,” said Green.

Jason Delwo, president of the Rochon Sands Heights Community Association, spoke at the meeting and began by apologizing for, “…the event last week, and cut locks too. I extend my apologies for the vandalism that goes on down there,” said Delwo. He stated there appears to be some “ill feelings” among some Rochon Sands Heights residents towards Stettler County that run a lot deeper than many realized. “But we can’t move back, so it’s just forward from here,” said Delwo.

Delwo stated he felt there were three main issues that have to be addressed, including paving a walking path to keep kids off the road, landscaping and no more grooming of the underbrush.

The ECA Review contacted Stettler County Aug. 12 to elaborate on “the event,” but spokesperson Andrew Brysiuk stated the municipality declined to comment. “The incident in question is going before the courts, so I can’t elaborate further at this time,” stated Brysiuk in an email.

Councillors passed a resolution to award the tender as presented to Lahrmann Construction of Lacombe based on their offer of $292,317.60. A second resolution was passed that all costs associated with the pathway paving be taken out of the Buffalo Lake Reserve Fund.

This item reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review, Coronation, Alberta