Local municipalities less concerned about gravel shortages

By Geoff Smith
August 18, 2016 - 7:05pm

The umbrella group for Saskatchewan’s rural municipalities says it’s vital to ensure they have enough of a key natural resource to maintain their infrastructure. But leaders in the Battlefords area say when it comes to gravel, they’re set for the short term.

The report, Got Gravel? Aggregate Management Strategies for Rural Municipalities in Saskatchewan outlines 10 recommendations to ensure long-term reserves are set aside to maintain and add to the over 165,000 km of municipal roads in the province. The report, conducted for the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) cautions that economic growth in recent years has increased demand, and prices for the non-renewable resource.

Dan Bartko, reeve of the R.M. of North Battleford, said it hasn’t been necessary yet to secure any reserves of gravel.

“We haven’t really gone to that extent. There are local pits, within even just the R.M., that (means) we’re pretty confident there’s still a good supply,” he explained, adding the R.M. has roughly two years of gravel available before the municipality has to start looking for more.

“Last year we did an inquiry with some pits in the region, and I know the other pits have quite a bit of supply to meet our needs. And the price is not too bad for what other regions are paying,” he said.

South of the river, Joe Beckman, reeve of the R.M. of Battle River said his municipality is always able to obtain gravel from local farmers, or from Battlefords-based contractor G&C Asphalt.

“If somebody comes to us, and they think they have a gravel pit or something like that, we’ll do a test on it to see if it’s worth the while, if it’s suitable gravel and that sort of thing,” he said. He added hauling has become more expensive, so it’s better to buy from local sources.

Bartko says quality is a significant factor, which allows them to use less.

“The quality we’re getting out of this pit now, we’re only using half the amount of product. A lot more fractured rock in the stuff we’re getting right now. That’s where our saving is. You pay more up front for it, but you save with it in the long run,” he said.

While neither R.M. maintains a strategic reserve, the R.M. of North Battleford reported a supply of up to five years, while the R.M. of Battle River listed up to 10 years, according to the report. Among the reports recommendations is the creation of a gravel exploration unit, and to maintain discussions with the province about grant money for exploration and acquisition.


Geoff Smith is battlefordsNOW's News Director, business and agriculture reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @smithco.  

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