The Village of Elnora council will investigate the municipality taking over maintenance costs of certain culverts in town after a complaint from the public. The discussion was held at the Dec. 12 regular council meeting.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Sharon Wesgate presented councillors with an update about a complaint regarding a damaged culvert described at the meeting as being located at 502 Queen Street.

 In her request for decision Wesgate asked councillors to decide if culverts/approaches to gain access to personal property across municipal land is the responsibility of the property owner or the municipality.

In her report to council Wesgate summarized that a property owner had complained to the village that a culvert was not operating properly and requested the village repair it. 

“The parcel located at 502 Queen Street was purchased by the current owner in Feb., 2022, who advised the village by email Sept. 12, 2023 the approach/culvert to his property had deteriorated and needed replacement prior to the onset of winter by the village,” stated Wesgate’s report to council. 

The CAO also noted the property owner had supplied photos of the failing culvert to village staff.

Mayor Jul Bissell stated he thought in the past the Village of Elnora had turned down requests similar to this one.

 The CAO noted in her report, “The village has advised prior property owners the installation and maintenance of the approaches/culverts is their responsibility.”

The CAO stated the council essentially had two options in this situation: assume responsibility to undertake installations and to replace the approach/culvert at the village’s cost, thereby setting a precedent or deem installation and maintenance of such approaches/culverts to be the full or partial responsibility of property owners.

In her report Wesgate noted she contacted a number of sources for advice on this topic, including the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MA) in Edmonton. 

“The (MA) advisor confirmed the approach is not a public road,” stated Wesgate’s memo. 

“In accordance with the Municipal Government Act (MGA) municipalities assume responsibility for public roads. 

“It was cautioned all residents be treated the same and fairly.”

The CAO noted she also looked into ways in which other municipalities handle complaints like this one. 

“A majority of municipalities assume the installation and maintenance costs,” stated Wesgate. 

“One municipality requires their residents to assume engineering and installation costs, the municipality then assumes routine maintenance and replacement costs, subject to case by case circumstances.”

Mayor Bissell noted that if council decides to set this precedent then the village takes over responsibility for such approaches/culverts for any new buildings in town.

Wesgate added that if council decides to take on responsibility, this item will require a policy to ensure that all residents are treated equally and further that this item will have to be added to future village budgets, “…and taxes will go up to pay for it.”

The CAO noted an approach/culvert that’s not operating in its intended fashion could affect the village’s overall drainage. 

She also added the village Public Works staff regularly checks some culverts around the village to ensure no plugs occur.

Mayor Bissell acknowledged this by saying in certain culvert situations the village may have to step in to prevent a flood hazard.

During discussion councillors agreed they would like more information on this issue before making a decision and it was mentioned that an engineer could be contacted for advice. 

The item will return to a future meeting.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 19, 2023 at 14:36

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

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