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County of St. Paul changes driveway snow removal policy

County of St. Paul residents will now be able to purchase one flag for the whole season, for snow clearing of private driveways.
snow driveway

ST. PAUL – County of St. Paul council has approved changes to its driveway snow removal policy to reduce both administrative and operational time, by adopting a new process when dealing with snow removal on private driveways. 

Council discussed the issue during the County of St. Paul regular council meeting on Sept. 13. Residents of the County are now able to purchase one flag and pay for snowplow services upfront for the entire winter, similar to how it’s done in Smoky Lake County, the County of Vermilion River, and the County of Two Hills.  

Flags purchased prior to Oct. 31 will cost $300, and after that the cost of flags will increase to $400 until Dec. 15. Snow will be cleared upon accumulation of a minimum six inches. 

“The policy has been changed quite dramatically,” said CAO Sheila Kitz, after the meeting. In the past, “residents could purchase a snow flag for
a one-time plow for $25 per flag.  The estimated cost of service for the average driveway under that program was $112 per flag per driveway,” explains Kitz. 

Last month, council took part in level of service discussions and “administration was directed to bring forward a new process that would reduce both administrative and operational time. Council also felt that the cost of the service needed to be addressed,” said Kitz. 

After Dec. 15, no new snow flags for the current season will be sold, but the County will offer custom snow clearing at an hourly rate, depending on availability of snow clearing equipment. Residents who already bought flags can return them and receive a credit of $25 per flag. 

Snow clearing will be free to seniors or persons with disabilities residing permanently within the County. 

Driveways will be plowed after roadways in the area have been completed, and depending on weather conditions, it may take several days before a driveway is plowed. The County encourages residents requiring more immediate service to arrange alternative snow clearing services via a private contractor at their own cost. 

To purchase a flag, visit the County of St. Paul Administration or Public Works offices, or the Town of Elk Point office during regular business hours. 

Kitz says the County will be spending considerable time and energy to ensure changes are communicated properly to everyone. 

BRIDGE file 6873 approved 

Council approved a motion to direct administration to get an estimate on the engineering, procurement and construction of a bridge that collapsed on Aug. 15 between St. Paul and Elk Point. This will allow the County to submit a Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) grant application prior to a Nov. 30 deadline. 

The entire project is estimated to cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, but there remains a risk of the cost going up due to inflation. 

“We’ll build in contingency to try and protect that STIP application,” said Daniel Reid, Director of Public Works, explaining to council that other municipalities reportedly have seen increased costs on projects due to inflation. 

CAO Sheila Kitz said the STIP grant, if successful, will only cover 75 per cent of the amount applied for by the municipality, so “as [Reid] said, we want to make sure we don’t lowball the number when we put in our STIP application.” She explained that if a project is subject to inflation, the municipality is responsible for the added cost. 

Sale of graders approved 

Council has decided to sell two 14M graders, units MG-05 and MG-10, to Finning for $210,000 and $215,000 respectively. Council will spend $4,400 for transportation of the equipment, but administration is hoping to negotiate the shipment deal. 

Other prospective buyers included Headwater Equipment who previously offered $195,000 per grader, before making a final offer of $215,500 for the M10 and $210,500 for the M5. 

Administration is looking to negotiate the Free On Board (FOB), which deals with shipping of the units. 

MCSnet tower agreement tabled 

Council motioned to table the decision of approving a license agreement with the County submitted by Vertex on behalf of MCSnet. The license agreement is about a communication tower that runs communication for the County’s SCADA system. Vertex is seeking an agreement with the County, reasoning that formal documentation for an agreement is lacking. 

According to administration, MCSnet has located some of its equipment to the tower to improve internet service to residents in the area. Vertex is looking to formalize a 25-year license agreement with the County. 

“One of my concerns under that acknowledgement, (is where) it says, ‘any breach in this license that result to disruption to telecommunication services’,” said Coun. Darrell Younghans, referring to a clause in the agreement regarding damage compensation to MCSnet if there is an
issue with the tower. “It looks like we have to adequately compensate MCSnet.” 

Reeve Glen Ockerman shared the same concern stating, “I just don’t know what we’re liable or opening ourselves up to.” He said he wasn’t sure if the County would be liable if any disruption occurred with the tower, causing services to go down. 

Council tabled the item, hoping to amend the clause. Administration will renegotiate the clause and bring the agreement back to council for consideration and approval. 

Clubroot policy tabled 

Council also tabled the proposed changes to its ASB-11 Clubroot Policy. The proposed changes will provide an option for landowners or renters who receives a three-year rotation ban to apply for a two-year rotation ban, provided they produce a plan to reduce risks of clubroot spread on the land with the pest notice. 

The policy was tabled to provide clarity on the two- and three-year rotation bans.