Roads/Streets (construction, closures and leases)
A municipality has discretion over where and when roads may be built depending on its budget, and over the construction and maintenance standards. No law exists that requires a municipality to build any road. Each situation is unique and subject to a municipality's discretion.
A municipality may adopt a bylaw to regulate traffic control in the municipality (see Clause 8(1)(f) of The Municipalities Act).
Section 13 of The Municipalities Act sets out the procedure for closing a municipal road allowance in order to lease the land for any purpose, to sell it, or to simply close the road allowance.
The municipality is required to provide public notice in accordance with its public notice policy stating council’s intention to enact a bylaw closing a road allowance. The notice must state:
- the legal description of the road allowance (consult the Controller of Surveys at the Information Services Corporation or a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor);
- the reason for the proposed closure; and
- information regarding the opportunity for persons who feels negatively impacted by the proposed closure to address council.
Additional notice may be required where the proposed closure requires the approval of the Minister of Highways and Infrastructure. Prior to passing a bylaw to close a street or road, council will provide persons who claim to be negatively impacted an opportunity to be heard.
Any lease or sale of a roadway must not eliminate access to land, and the lease or sale is subject to any existing easements or public right of way for public utility services. Leases of closed roadways are required to contain a provision which enables the municipality to prematurely terminate the lease or to request public access. Copies of lease agreements, along with the bylaw, are to be filed with the Minister of Highways and Infrastructure.
Road Maintenance Agreements
Municipalities in Saskatchewan have had the authority to require road maintenance agreements and compensation from haulers since 1981. Between 1981 and 1989, municipalities were free to charge whatever rate they deemed necessary to compensate for road damage and maintenance caused by bulk hauls. This resulted in a wide range of rates among municipalities and concerns from both the trucking and road building industries about inconsistent treatment by some municipalities.
Introduction of regulated rates
Maximum provincial rates for incremental road maintenance and loss of road life were set into regulation in 1990. The rationale of the regulation when it was established was to consistently compensate the municipalities for extra road maintenance costs and loss of road life due to damage from significant hauls of bulk goods and materials on municipal roads, while also guaranteeing more uniform rates for heavy haulers.
Authority for establishing road maintenance agreements falls under section 22 of The Municipalities Act. The road maintenance and loss of road life rates are to address the incremental costs associated with bulk hauls and not the full cost of maintenance, construction and repair of municipal roads.
The maximum rates were reviewed in 2007-08. In 2007, a committee with representation from government, industry and rural municipalities (RMs) was formed to discuss the issue. The committee found there was no documentation on or rationale for, the original rate amounts. The committee members felt road maintenance rates needed to be more defensible and tied to actual costs.
As well, the committee recommended a legislated dispute resolution mechanism be put in place to quickly resolve disputes between haulers and municipalities, and a new agreement template be drafted. Both of these recommendations were implemented in 2010. Amendments were made to The Municipalities Act to create a dispute resolution process overseen by the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB), and a new road maintenance agreement template was posted on the Ministry website. (See link below.)
Rates based on actual costs
As a result of the committee’s recommendation relating to rates, an engineering consultant was retained under contract in 2009 to analyze road costs and recommend new rates. The purpose of the study was to gather data on the typical costs associated with RM road maintenance and restoration, and develop a schedule of rates to compensate municipalities for damages due to heavy hauls based on the associated cost data.
The engineering consultant’s study recommended further research as it was found that municipalities did not in fact track the required data. As a result, the Ministry of Government Relations collaborated with SARM to initiate a project to collect municipal road cost data starting in 2011. The intention of the study is to enable future rate updates to be based on actual road maintenance costs.
Unfortunately, the participation rates of RMs have not been at the level needed, meaning the study’s results may not provide a sufficient basis for future rates. If an RM has or uses road maintenance agreements and would be willing to participate in the study to help determine future rate increases, please contact the Ministry of Government Relations. Contact information is below.
While the costs to maintain roads and their usage have increased, the road maintenance agreement rates have not changed since 1999. Pending the ability to use actual cost data from RMs as the basis for rates, government has recently approved a two year phase-in of increased road maintenance agreement rates. Government has recently approved a two year phase-in of increased road maintenance agreement rates. The new rates are based on the inflationary increase between 1998 and 2012 as measured by the change in the Saskatchewan Consumer Price Index (CPI). The regulated road maintenance agreement rates will increase by 37.1% over two years (2013 and 2014). These new rates became effective on May 30, 2013.
The ministry is continuing to make other improvements where possible. In its spring 2013 session, the Legislative Assembly approved amendments to The Municipalities Act to respond to the need for better enforcement provisions for road maintenance agreements. The approved amendments to the road maintenance agreement provisions are two-fold and will:
- provide the ability for a rural municipality to apply to the court to obtain a ‘stop order’ preventing a person that has not entered into a road maintenance agreement with the rural municipality, yet continues to haul, from transporting or receiving goods; and
- clarify the authority for the SMB, by order, to direct either party to the dispute (the shipper/receiver/hauler of goods or the municipality) to provide compensation that the Board considers necessary and reasonable.
2018 and 2019 Gravel Extraction Licence Maximum Fee Rates
Municipalities have the authority to pass a bylaw to charge gravel crushers and extractors a gravel extraction licence fee. The maximum fee a municipality may establish is calculated by a formula set out in Section 8.1 of The Municipalities Regulations. The formula was implemented in 2008 to provide automatic biennial updates of the maximum rate.
The maximum gravel extraction licence fee rates for 2018 and 2019, effective January 1, 2018, will be as follows:
- $0.165 per cubic metre
- $0.126 per cubic yard
- $0.089 per cubic tonne
- $0.082 per ton
The maximum fee is increased based on the annual percentage change for the “all-items” Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Saskatchewan for the year, two years before the first year the rate comes into effect. The rate increase for 2018 represents a CPI inflation rate of 1.6 percent in 2015 and 1.1 percent in 2016.
Questions or concerns about gravel extraction maximum fees can be directed to a municipal advisor at 306-787-2680.