It’s been a long and tiring journey for Ponoka County that may soon be ending.
Following approval last month by county council to front the funds to purchase a new heavy-duty tire shredder from North Carolina, council was provided with an update by CAO Charlie Cutforth at its meeting on June 12.
The machine — which cost just over $207,000 — only recently arrived at the National Tire Recycling facility north of Ponoka, which Cutforth noted is expected to be operational and cutting up the large mining tires by the end of June.
“The company has been busy cleaning up the site, having sent two containers full of tire tubes to Malaysia and further developing the site,” he stated in an interview.
“The big new machine is all the company said it was and can do the job that it’s needed for. We also have that commitment from the Alberta Recycling Management Authority regarding the funding for the program (passenger) tires being processed. It is all looking good so far, so I’d say we are guardedly optimistic.”
Cutforth noted that the real money-making opportunity, which would see the county likely to be paid back sooner, comes when the smaller crumbs and mulch from the tires begins to be produced as there is a large market for those products.
The county has received a response from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to a letter sent last month regarding the concentration of confined feeding operations (CFO) in an area west of Ponoka.
It’s an area that is more frequently attracting residential developments. The letter called on the government for a 90-day moratorium on any approvals in that area of the county.
The letter from minister Oneil Carlier explains, while the government is not in a position to impose such a restriction, that the legislation allows the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) to consider the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) in place at the time a decision is made when looking at an application — not the MDP that was in effect when the application was made.
Carlier then encouraged the county to continue working on amending its MDP as it sees fit.
That one statement — knowing the NRCB will use the MDP in place at decision making time — has the county feeling like there is some hope, as any applications face a 90 day time frame through the public consultation process. That period will give the county a chance to amend its MDP, as it presently has a consultant researching potential land use regulations to address the situation.
“It also shows that the government recognizes there are some legitimate concerns on the issue,” Cutforth added.
“The conundrum we have is how to change the land use plan and reference that in the MDP to address the concerns about the concentration of CFOs without restricting other agricultural land uses or the market values of land in those areas.”
So far, there is one new application in front of the NRCB that is in the area of concern.
Cutforth also stated that with such a concentration of CFOs in the Battle River drainage basin, what is the potential impact of that overall total.
Council did approve a reduction of the speed limit, from 40 to 30 kilometres per hour, for the area of Meridian Beach. However, with the current speed bumps that are in place, the full effect of the reduction isn’t known.