By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Advance
After a brutal winter for water main breaks, the Town of Castor is running a significant loss on the water system.
Town of Castor council heard from administration during their April 12th meeting that water losses ending the month of February were over 40 per cent.
Since a water main break remained a factor into early March, Town of Castor administration is not expecting March to be a significant improvement.
“If we can get closer to the (30 per cent range), that will be great,” said Town of Castor Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Robblee.
“The March allocation isn’t in yet, and part of the break was in March. “
The Town of Castor draws its water from the Shirley McLellan Regional Water Commission line that runs from the Red Deer river all the way east to Consort.
The Town has a water purchase agreement in place with the commission, with penalties applied if the Town uses under its water allocation.
“We don’t get charged a penalty for being over,” said Robblee.
“We just have to pay for the water.”
Paintearth Adult Learning
Castor Town council has directed Town administration to draft a letter of support to Paintearth Adult Learning surrounding funding and expenses.
Paintearth Adult Learning, which has its main office in the basement of the provincial building in Coronation, received word from the Government of Alberta that effective in 2022 they would be required to pay rent on a cost-recovery basis. They previously leased the space at no cost from the Province.
The amount of rent being requested from the Province was not made public in the council meeting package, but is said to be a significant amount, resulting in the organization possibly moving, or reducing services, or both.
The letter being drafted by administration will ask the Government of Alberta to reconsider the full cost-recovery model, and instead switch to a partial cost-recovery that will not so significantly impact the organization’s budget.
Paintearth Adult Learning is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the region this month.
Gas Tax/Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding
With a reduction in the Town of Castor’s Gas Tax Fund for 2021, and the need to purchase a new gas service vehicle, sidewalks have been cut from the list of capital projects being completed in 2021.
The Town has been using the Gas Tax Fund to repair sidewalks over the last several years, however, due to operational needs, administration is applying to use the funds for a replacement vehicle.
“We’re still not sure if we can use it for a capital purchase,” said Robblee.
Town of Castor Administration has also received word from the Government of Alberta that Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding will be increased by $110,000 for 2021 but will be coming out of the 2022 allotment.
Due to that, Robblee is recommending that council save a portion of the money for 2022, as it is currently unclear if MSI will face cuts next year.
In previous years, communities were required to use all of the MSI funds in the year it was received, however for 2021, since part of the allocation is coming from the 2022 allotment, the Town can save some of the funds for next year.
With 50th Street continuing to deteriorate, Town of Castor administration is looking at repair options.
“The road is beyond pothole filling,” said Robblee.
Currently, the best option put before council, according to Robblee, is paving an overlay onto the section of road. The cost for overlaying one block of both sides of 50th Street would be around $42,000 and would potentially last several years longer than other options.
Other options Robblee put before council included filling the potholes with cold-mix, or tearing up the road and replacing it with gravel.
“It’s just an option, and I provide all of them” said Robblee.
“I don’t think it’s a great option.”
Most of council did not seem receptive to cold mix, as it would not likely last more than two to three years, and gravel was not even a consideration.
“I personally think cold-mix is out, and gravel is out,” said Coun. Lonny Nelner.
“Cold-mix is such a short-term fix it’s probably out,” agreed Mayor Elhard.
Council directed administration to get a firm quote for one-block of overlay on 50th Street to allow for budgeting.