Big Lakes County council remains firm in its decision to stop selling new culverts to residents.
Council made the decision at its regular meeting March 8 after administration proposed increasing fees and prices for certain products and services provided by public works.
Council gave all three readings to the schedule of fees bylaw at the meeting without opposition.
Reeve Robert Nygaard said Big Lakes wants to make sure it has enough culverts for county projects as municipalities across Canada struggle to keep ample supply in stock.
“During times when supply chain problems have occurred in the recent past, management of the culvert inventory has become difficult,” he noted.
“There have been some steel shortages and culvert procurement problems throughout the country since 2019.”
A growing number of municipalities have stopped selling new culverts, he added.
“A neighbouring municipality that was selling culverts passed a resolution placing a moratorium on culvert sales during the supply chain difficulties,” Nygaard said.
Despite the supply issues, municipalities are not obligated to sell culverts at retail.
“Culvert sales are not a basic municipal service,” Nygaard said.
“Many municipalities do not provide this retail service.”
Instead, the County encourages people to support local retail businesses.
“There are many private-sector companies that provide the service in the area,” Nygaard said.
He noted council can decide to revisit the schedule of fees bylaw as required.
Big Lakes still sells used culverts that increased in price to 33 per cent of the new cost as tendered.
The previous price was $1 a foot.
At the March 8 meeting, administration proposed that council get more than just actual cost to sell culverts.
Administration proposed that the price increase to include 10 per cent more than the actual cost.
Several council members were quick to express their concern about selling new culverts.
High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Tyler Airth was the first to express his opposition to the County selling new culverts.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of selling new culverts,” he said.
North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk agreed with Airth.
“We shouldn’t be in the business of selling new culverts if they are available in businesses in the region,” Zabolotiniuk said.
“We don’t want to steal from other local businesses.”
Grouard Councillor Jeff Chalifoux also agreed.
“I don’t think we’re in the retail business,” Chalifoux says.
No members of council opposed the decision that the county stop selling new culverts.
by Richard Froese
March 27, 2023
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