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County of St. Paul seeks applicants for highway cleanup

The County of St. Paul increased funding for the upcoming annual Highway Cleanup 2023 on May 6 to attract community groups apply, following the March 14 County council meeting.
File photo

ST. PAUL – The County of St. Paul has increased funding for the upcoming annual highway cleanup, set to take place on May 6, in a bid to attract community groups that want to take part in the program.

Each year, several community groups participate in the 84 km highway cleanup, but this year, the municipality is having a hard time finding groups to get the work done. The topic was discussed during the March 14 County of St. Paul council meeting. 

According to County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz, in the past, areas picked for cleanup include: Moosehills Road, Murphy Road, the County Shop Road north to Westcove, Township Road 582 from Highway 881 to County Shop Road (RR95), Range Road 100 from Highway 28 north for six miles through Mallaig, St. Lina North to Landfill and West to Highway 867. 

Ross Lake Road has also been included. However, in 2022, no groups were found for picking up the approximately seven miles stretch of Ross Lake Road due to the large amount of garbage and high traffic volume. A flat rate of $1,500 has been offered in the past for groups who tackle the ditches along the road. 

Coun. Ross Krekoski made a motion to adjust the payment to groups from $100 per mile to $150 per mile in 2023. Included in the motion is the adjustment of the payment for seven miles of Ross Lake Road to $2,500 - a $1,000 increase.

"My rational for jacking it up is we can’t find anybody to clean up,” said Krekoski. “But it serves a dual purpose. We're giving money to our groups and we're also cleaning up the space, which is also a service." 

The motion was carried. 

Vegetation maintenance and brushing policy 

County council has adjusted its PW-4 Vegetation Maintenance/Brushing Policy, aimed at improving safety through engagement with residents in vegetation and tree removal, for the purpose of easier maintenance of County infrastructure, like roads and County-owned property. 

“One of the main changes to the policy is to include descriptions for the levels of funding provided under the policy, should a resident want to do some brushing that would assist the County for their roads as well,” said Kitz. 

The addition of “level” categories indicate how much the County will pay as per the Vegetation Removal Compensation Program, reflecting the amount of “brush, terrain encountered, and rocks and debris to be removed in order to complete the brushing,” according to the draft of the amendment to the policy. 

The “Levels” range from “Level 1” to “Level 5,” with the lowest level being $500 per mile, and the highest at $2,500 per mile, as per recommendation from administration. 

Coun. Kevin Wirsta suggested increasing “Level 5” from $2,500 to $3,000, noting the cost of renting heavy equipment required for brushing.  

“We used to rent a Cat [heavy equipment] for an hour... now it’s up to basically $200 an hour,” he said. 

Changes to the policy were approved and “Level 5” was increased to $3,000. 

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