Lac La Biche County has approved $60,000 to upgrade the walking bridge at Imperial Mills in order to accommodate quad traffic.
On February 1, in the regular council meeting, a proposed motion was presented to elected officials by Brian Shapka Associate CAO for Lac La Biche County’s Infrastructure Services Division. The motion was that Council approves $100,000 to widen the walking trail bridge at Imperial Mills and further that the funds be re-allocated from accumulated surplus.
Associate CAO Shapka presented Council with the plan that would be completed if approved which entailed widening the structure while also attaching a 6″ thick X 6′ wide planking or possibly modular metal floor panels to the existing girder and attaching railings to it.
“This would cost between $50,000-$100,000 (dependent on material type and cost) and would allow for quad traffic,” Associate CAO Shapka said.
The existing walking bridge was originally constructed in 1952 Shapka says and services one residence that is located within a miscellaneous lease through public lands on the east side of the Piche River. This lease is accessed by a quad/walking trail from the bridge to the residence.
The walking bridge was repaired this past year to original standards which is a 36″ wide concrete girder with railings that narrow it to 29″ wide. Because quads cannot access it, the residents must currently walk the length of the bridge which is approximately 60 feet.
The cost of that upgrade was $40,000 and was completed in 2021. However, if that money wasn’t spent the cost of that work would have been added.
“Mr. Mayor, Members of Council, what I failed to mention I guess earlier is that the work that we did in 2021 to this bridge would have had to be done regardless of widening or not,” We spent that $40,000. We would have had to spend that plus anything more to widen it.”
The source of funding would be taken from Lac La Biche County’s Accumulated Surplus. This project is not listed in the current capital plan, either funded or not funded. An accumulated surplus roughly has $100,000.
“To puts things into perspective we can’t be handing out money left and right,” Mayor of Lac La Biche Paul Reutov said in the meeting. “We’re spending like drunken sailors, no offense to drunken sailors, at some point we have to start rationalizing a little bit.”
Council Makes the Decision
Ward 6 Councillor of Lac La Biche Sterling Johnson says, “My big thing is we’re trying to fix this thing so it was usable for the community to go across and give this guy access to his property where he can actually drive a quad.”
Councillor Johnson during the meeting, “To put this in perspective. We serviced four lots and Plamondon on the other side of the creek for 800,000. So that’s $200,000 a lot. We also get the mission, water, and sewer project for eight and a half million dollars for 64 residents that’s $130,000 per resident there that we spent so they could drink water and all we’re talking about here is $50,000 to $100,000.”
Council discussed the cost of the project which lead to an approval of $60,000.
“I think $100,000 is high so the guy can actually drive to his house with a quad,” Johnson said. “So when you look at what we did for other areas, and this is also going to be used for that whole community of eight or ten lots for people there to go across the river and enjoy their lifestyle on the other side of the river before it freezes.”
Johnson voiced, “I know we’re short of money but on the other hand, I think there are lots of areas where we can find money and we’re flush with money for different programs and stuff like that. So you know we have different proposals where we’re still wanting to spend more money in the millions so for us to spend $50,000 So this guy can access his property. I have no problem spending it even though we’re short on money for this because I know regular residents and water and sewer and improving lifestyles for the residents.”
Johnson said the decision to approve the funding, “Is no different, and in that community, they don’t get anything besides gravel.
“They have no paved roads or anything like that,” Johnson said. “So I have no problem trying to make this correction with the construction that happened last year. And I would like to make that motion to proceed with this project and vote on it.”
Ward 3 Councillor Colette Borgun asked Johnson, “Does it have to cost $100,000? There’s a big difference if I’m going to vote on $50,000 or going to vote to support $100,000. So is there some room to play there? Brian is it for sure gonna cost $100,000? Or is this just a number that could be preliminary?”
Johnson eventually purposed the motion to fund the bridge with $60,000 which Lac La Biche voted on and passed.
“Here you go, Councillor Johnson,” Mayor Paul Reutov said. “We have a bridge you have a bridge. Motion carried.”