Road contractor brings concerns to Barriere council meeting

letter from Murray Purcha & Son Ltd. to council was presented and discussed at District of Barriere council meeting

The Tuesday, Feb. 18, District of Barriere council meeting addressed a number of items on the agenda.

Approval was given to the renaming of small section of Station Road from Highway 5 to the Gilbert Smith Mill to ‘Borthwick Avenue’.

The first run through of the budget, that reflected a five percent increase in taxes, resulted in several suggestions by council members for staff to look for ways to cut the budget a bit to reduce this potential increase. One such suggestion was that council members take a small pay cut. Staff will re-work the budget and present the revised draft on Monday, Mar. 10 at 6 p.m.

A letter from Murray Purcha & Son Ltd. to council was presented and discussed.

Purcha’s letter noted he “.. had concerns with the private contractors that are doing snow removal on private parking areas and various District jobs such as the Fire Hall, parks, fire hydrants, water treatment plant, and pump houses, etc…..

“Last week I was ice blading River Walk in Ken Beharrell’s subdivision when I noticed a big gouge in a person’s paved driveway. The first thing that came to my mind was; I wonder if anybody know that this was done. I was going to phone Ken to ask when a neighbour said that it was the Private Contractor that the District hires whenever the Road Maintenance can’t handle it (said in a joking manner). The way the driveway and gouge was done was a joke; he cross-plowed the road leaving ice patches 3” to 4” thick. I had salted it two days before and was waiting for the ice to soften up before returning to peel it off slowly with the ice blades.”

Purcha’s letter also asked the following questions:

“1) Who gave this contractor the go ahead without asking me first, as all you members must remember these roads are under my contract and if any damage occurs I could be held responsible or sued. So in the case mentioned above, I noticed the gouge when I came around the corner as I was peeling the ice off the road with the grader. I would have done it a day sooner but I was waiting for the salt to perform and do its thing.

“2) Why were these jobs not put up for Bid? The newspaper generally advertises these contracts like when I bid on the snow removal it was well advertised. Why wasn’t this done the same way? I don’t have enough work to hire somebody steady, but if these were advertised properly, I may have gotten enough work to have another man full time.

“3) I would like somebody to tell me how come they are allowing heavy equipment like backhoes and trucks to plow the park. When we built the park, Dawson Construction and their consultants recommended to do the park with nothing heavier than a quad or a small 4-wheeler as its pure sand under the asphalt and is not compacted properly to these ground conditions. It was done that way until now, so who changed that?

“4) Now due to these damages (driveways), etc., and possible damages coming up, do these contractors carry a five million dollar liability insurance policy like I have to or not, if not, why? Remember, they are clearing around fire hydrants in a risky manner. Like using a front plow on a pickup; which has poor visibility for the operator. A hydrant can get damaged or broken, two shut off valves are generally between the road and the fire hydrant which can also get damaged. For this type of job I would do it with a bobcat and a mexican shovel and do it in a much wider area all around the hydrant so they don’t have to get done so often.

“A plow truck or backhoe does not do the job like a grader. If I were you people, I would be very concerned about the big potholes around the front and sides of the Post Office; which I’ve had to cut out twice now with the ice blade. My neighbour got stuck with her little car in a big hole after stopping, and it took five people to push her out. Another person gave me a piece of his mind because his wife slipped in one of those holes and he said she almost broke her leg….

“…I am also wondering if anything can be done with the rough spots in the road where the LNB crew dug up the sewer lines in various spots?

“I’m afraid of damaging my front-end or rear springs with a heavy load on my plow/sand truck. Can pit run gravel be used to fill holes to make the surface a little smoother with a grader?

“As I have mentioned before, I have 32 years plus in experience in snow removal, verses two or three years that these private contractors have. They don’t know how to move a large amount of snowfall if it came. I can see this with the way they push it in piles close to the road. I know that half of the snow will be left on the road for me to move if we get a foot of snow. It should be hauled away when they have time after the snowfall. Otherwise what’s going to happen with the water when it starts melting; if done properly this should not happen.”

After Purcha’s letter was received and discussed, council directed staff to draft a reply addressing his concerns. Later in the meeting, during public inquiries, Paul Morris asked council for clarification on what jobs are, or are not, put up for public bidding?  It was also decided that Morris, Purcha and District staff and council members would meet at a later date to discuss these concerns further.