Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pincher Creek's town council discusses Agricultural Society issues

Toni Lucas - On Tuesday evening Council for the Town of Pincher Creek discussed issues raised by a delegation from the Pincher Creek and District Agricultural Society. Society President Janet Watmough and Vice President Hilary Matheson appeared before council on May 9. Their concerns included leveling, drainage, fencing issues, and safety for riders due to changes on the grounds due to construction, and insufficient restoration after the installation of the new water intake system for the town. Council went through a number of their concerns.

Mayor Don Anderberg said he went to the Agricultural Grounds and personally did see there was some standing water left by the rain, especially in the round pen. He said the Town's Director of Operations kept good records of all the work that was done on the grounds during the installation of the new water intake system, and said he also saw what was communicated both within the Town and to the Agricultural Society. "It seems to me there is a bit of a disconnect between the people who were here presenting the concerns, and the people who actually do the work at the agricultural grounds."

Mayor Anderberg also said he saw standing water in the swale made for drainage, and said it was possibly made that way to keep the water from running too quickly, as the drainage affects the adjacent riparian area. He explained the black cloth in the creek area, which was also a concern for the delegation, will have to stay because it plays a mayor role in reducing sediment going into the creek bed and is a requirement to maintain riparian health. Anderberg said the cloth will dissipate over time, once grass grows through it.

Anderberg said he checked on both the upper and lower parking lot and found standing water in both areas. "From my point of view, the standard of the lower parking lot from the construction phase was at least at as equal to, or higher standard than the parking lot that's on the upper level."

Addressing the round pen Mayor Anderberg showed Geographic Information System (GIS) photos of the round pen, saying the warm -up ring now has more panels in its construction, and therefore encompasses a larger circumference, and he believes that is where the 10 foot diameter of sanded area that used to be around the outside of the round pen has gone. "The agreement was to build the ring the same size, and put the panels all the way around the ring." As the internal diameter of the round pen increased, the outside diameter was incorporated to be held inside of the pen. "I don't have a problem with going in and doing the sand, just they should be aware things have changed, and maybe acknowledge it." He later added "The only thing I want to make sure is if we buy another 100 yards of sand, that that material is acceptable to them, because what I got is the material that is there already wasn't acceptable. They actually purchased it from somebody else, and we paid for it. So if we are going to pay for another hundred yards of material, we better have them signing off on it before it goes in."

Anderberg said, "There is a little bit of misinformation here. The second piece of misinformation, is the quality of the material in there." Anderberg said he saw sand inside of the pen, and the dirt and gravel brought up by the delegation may have been referring to the materials that are now the exterior border of the circumference of the pen. In the package there is a bill from the original company which supplied the sand material for the pen, and a more recent bill for the new sand, from the company who originally supplied the acceptable material. Anderberg explained that there is extra sand material close to the pen to top up the pen in the case of settling or other issues, to be administered by the Agricultural Society. 

Councillor Doug Thornton discussed the amount of sand which has been used for the project. "To sit here, and be scolded, is not much fun, especially now that we learned some pretty interesting facts." Administration gave a rough estimate was $1,500 to $2,500 more sand could be needed.

The aesthetics of the new pumphouse building at the site was raised at both meetings. Anderberg said "The ironic part of that is we didn't pay for that project. That project was signed off on by the provincial government, so they thought it was a pretty nice building too, obviously."

Councillor Lorne Jackson said council discussed that they were happy the pumphouse building was made aesthetically pleasing, as it is a residential area and along the nearby walking path. It incorporates a bench to make it a rest area. "It's better than just a spartan, cinder block wall." Anderberg mentioned there are plans to replace the pathway next year, as they want the construction to the area to settle first. "This was all communicated with the appropriate people of the Ag Society, and I just wanted to make sure everybody knows the rest of the story."

Of the various concerns presented by the delegation Anderberg said "We will address as much as we can, I guess." He said there are a few rough and muddy areas remaining on the grounds. "It's seeded, it has to fill in. It's construction, it's going to take a while to get it back to where it was, but as far as the landscaping concerned, it's there. The earthwork has been done and overall, it did pretty well."

"I think there was a lot of erroneous information, (presented to council) and that's fine, we couldn't comment on it during the last meeting, because we didn't have any information of our own." Anderberg said the Agricultural Society leases the grounds from the Town of Pincher Creek for $1.00 per year. "I'm a little surprised that this didn't go to administration before it came to council as a quote-unquote 'real big issue'. Certainly there are a few issues there, and we are quite willing to work with the Ag Society."

Council directed administration to provide additional material as required to the Ag Society's round horse pen to prevent surface drainage into the pen, and to send a letter to the Society informing them that the sand ring on the outside of the pen will be their responsibility due to the expansion of the pen, and that the drainage ditch and black landscaping cloth will remain as required.

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