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From the outset of their mandate in October 2017, Flagstaff County Council has focused on a number of priorities for landowners. Among those priorities, Council identified the need to conduct a review of the Arterial Road Network and road surface type.

Following much public dialogue – including a public focus group meeting, a special focus group meeting with a group of citizens and a thorough third-party public opinion survey mailed to 1,200 people – Council carefully considered and debated all of the available options pertaining to Flagstaff County’s Arterial Road Network and road surface type.

At their regular meeting on May 8, 2019, Council passed a resolution that Policy PW 003 Roads be amended to include an Arterial Road Network that is ban free, utilizing MG 30 as a dust suppressant and consisting of a total of 132.5 miles

The three main reasons cited for this decision were as follows:

1. Improved safety;

2. Reduced maintenance costs (including a reduced amount of required gravel);

3. Efficient and effective traffic flow. The roads that comprise the Arterial Road Network are designed to handle traffic going from a provincial highway to another provincial highway or going from a community through other communities on the way to a provincial highway. They’re also designed to handle traffic heading to and from industrial areas.

The Arterial Road Network includes the following roads:

ARTERIAL ROAD

MILES

Twp Rd 450 from Hwy 36 east to SH 870

13.0

Twp Rd 430 from SH 855 east to Rge Rd 113

27.5

Twp Rd 410 from SH 855 east to the Battle River *

40.5

Rge Rd 153 from Hwy 26 south to Hwy 13

14.0

Rge Rd 124 from Twp 460 south to Twp Rd 442

10.0

Rge Rd 113 from Village of Lougheed south to SH 608

12.0

Rge Rd 152 from Village of Forestburg south to Twp Rd 410

5.5

Rge Rd 123 from SH 608 south to Twp Rd 410

10.0

TOTAL MILES OF ARTERIAL ROADS

132.5

 *Includes the ATCO Access Road (4.5 miles of pavement)

The Arterial Road Network no longer includes Rge Road 150, more commonly referred to as Bruce Road.

Background: Focus Group Meetings

With the goal of hearing feedback from a broad cross-section of citizens representing all categories of ratepayers (farmers, acreage owners, commercial businesses, and the oil and gas industry), Council hosted a public Focus Group Meeting on November 15, 2018, at the Flagstaff County Office in Sedgewick.

At this meeting, which drew 75 attendees, Flagstaff County Reeve Don Kroetch presented the intent of Council’s road-related policies, explaining that the overarching goal is to continually provide an efficient and cost-effective road network serving as a feeder system to the provincial highway network. He also summarized the history leading to the development of the Arterial Road Network.

Meeting attendees were then invited to provide feedback on the following three key facets, as part of a facilitated discussion:

1. Road classifications – arterial, collector and local roads;

2. The choice for dust suppressant (MG30), which is utilized on arterial roads;

3. Other options considered for surface types.

A similarly structured Focus Group Meeting was held the next day with a group of eight citizens representing the Flagstaff Coalition for Better Roads.

All feedback from both meetings was compiled and categorized. Council diligently reviewed and discussed the feedback.

Background: Survey 

Last fall, as preparations were being made for both Focus Group Meetings, Flagstaff County also contracted MDB Insight to design a survey to measure public perceptions and opinions regarding the Arterial Road Network and road surface type. The goal was to understand the preference for road surfaces and gauge satisfaction levels with each surface type.

On February 22, 2019, letters went out to rural stakeholders within Flagstaff County. About 14% (171 out of a possible 1,200 participants) responded to the survey. More than two out of three residents indicated that they prefer gravel with residential dust suppressant over MG 30 (68% vs 32%, respectively).

On April 10, 2019, County Council discussed the next steps that needed to be taken to determine the Arterial Road Network and the surface type. Council requested additional information, including a traffic count update and a review of the road ban policy/procedures and commitment to the contract for the supply of MG 30.

On April 26, 2019, County Council held a Priority Setting Workshop with the goal of providing direction for the 2020-2022 Business Plan and Budget. Council reviewed and discussed relevant information regarding the Arterial Road Network and surface type. The result was to formulate a resolution for further discussion and a decision at the May 8, 2019, Council Meeting.

Overview

Since 2006, Flagstaff County has allocated funds annually for testing new dust suppressant products. It is our mandate to provide products that are cost effective and less susceptible to weather conditions, which can have an impact on costs, application time, and end results.

Flagstaff County tested MG 30 for the first time in 2012. MG 30 has been used exclusively for all dust suppressant applications since 2017.

Over the years, County Council has consulted the public on several occasions in relation to dust suppressant products, as well as the Arterial Road Network, which was developed from the 2013 Rural Road Study.

Council has reviewed considerable information while working to balance public expectations with future financial implications for the municipality.

Public feedback consistently supports the concept of an Arterial Road Network system that provides an efficient network and a feeder system to the provincial highway network. This network was originally intended to be dust suppressed and ban free.