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Trucking company explains challenges with political policy

A Lac La Biche trucking company’ s fight with the municipality over the location of employee work camps and other Land Use Bylaw issues has gone public.

A Lac La Biche trucking company’ s fight with the municipality over the location of employee work camps and other Land Use Bylaw issues has gone public.
In a letter to community groups in the Lac La Biche area, Calnash Trucking officials are saying recent decisions by Lac La Biche County councillors have affected their bottom-line, and in turn, their ability to fund requests for donations and sponsorships.
“Due to this new bylaw and its effect on our company, we must stop our support to the County of Lac La Biche and all promotional related funding,” states a portion of the letter dated January 31.

It wasn’ t an easy letter to write, or an easy decision to make, says Calnash boss Kevin Nashim.
“The letter isn’ t to penalize any- body, but we need to get the community seeing what is going on and how these councilors are shut- ting down industry,” said Nashim last Friday, two weeks after the first of the letters began arriving at non-profit organizations, and some small businesses.
The letter, he said, is to explain what he feels is an attack on private business by members of council. He says recent decisions and comments made as discussions continue on revisions to the municipal Land Use Bylaw, prompted the letter.
The bylaw, essentially a blueprint for development in the municipality, covers everything from downtown business parking, land zoning and store signage to wind farm regulations and commercial work camps. It’ s the zoning and work camp issues that Nashim says are directly affecting his company’ s attempts to operate. As trucking companies like Calnash and Lac La Biche Transport operate overnight camp facilities for their employees on their properties located just a few kilometres from the hamlet of Lac La Biche, county councillors are discussing ways to restrict that operation.
In recent weeks, councillors and members of the Municipal Planning Commission and the Subdivision Development Appeal Board have turned down requests from several local companies for expansions of their work camps. In the last few days, Nashim says his company has also been issued a municipal order restricting further use of a storage area located 10 kilometres west of Lac La Biche. The land, which is zoned for agricultural use, currently stores trucking and oilfield equipment for Calnash.
Nashim said he feels singled out by council, and wants the community to realize what large companies who support the residents have to go through. The intention of the letter, he says, is not to hold small groups hostage, it’ s to let people know what their council is doing to discourage big business.
“We want the community to see it from our side,” he said.
In an average year, said explained, his family-based company can give out tens of thousands of dollars in sponsorships and donations. It’ s a part of belonging to a community for as long as they have, he said.
But when the leaders of that community make decisions that directly affect his private busi- ness, tough choices have to be made.
“We have always been happy to help the community, but when this council is shutting us down or affecting our bottom line, we have to react,” he said.

The letter, which asks members of the public to support the trucking company by taking their concerns to council members, was necessary, Nashim said, because it helps to show the community the pressures and strains that council puts on large companies in the region.
When asked if council was aware of the letter and its content, Lac La Biche Mayor Omer Moghrabi said he had read it.
When asked for a comment, the mayor said it wasn’ t his place to comment.
“This is a business decision by a private company,” said Moghrabi.
Discussions by councillors on the Land Use Bylaw are ongoing.

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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