Highway Ditch Mowing By Municipalities

Res #: 28-12M
Number: 28
Year: 2012
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No

WHEREAS vehicle/wildlife accidents along roads and highways in the Province of Saskatchewan is increasingly leading to loss of life and property; and

WHEREAS tall grass and vegetation on the edge of highways obstructs drivers from detecting wildlife in the ditches and therefore significantly contributes to many of these vehicle/wildlife accidents; and

WHEREAS many municipalities have the necessary resources to top-cut the highway ditches within their respective municipality;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure to develop a voluntary program to pay municipalities a fee for service to top-cut the highway ditches as necessary within their respective municipalities.

Response from Honourable Don McMorris, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure:

In 2012, the Ministry entered into agreements with 18 municipalities. They completed 1,600 ha of ditch mowing. The majority of agreements were maintenance agreements with municipalities where municipalities conducted gravel blading and mowing under the same agreement with few mowing only agreements signed with the municipalities. Mowing was completed according to existing mowing standards and municipalities were instructed that any ditching mowing completed above and beyond Ministry standards will not be compensated by the Ministry. Municipalities who entered into the agreement were aware of Ministry’s standards and additional mowing for aesthetics was completed solely on RM’s discretion and their cost.

The Ministry would be happy to have municipalities assist with delivery of the mowing program; however, in order to ensure a competitive, viable and thriving mowing contractor industry, the Ministry prefers and encourages interested municipalities to bid on public tenders for mowing. This could also be achieved by several municipalities establishing a partnership to bid on mowing contracts. This would be a proper way to bid on mowing work in order to be fair with private contractors. No rules or regulations currently prevent municipalities from bidding on Ministry mowing contracts.

If a municipality is interested in taking over some of highway ditch mowing, they need to start discussions early with District Operations Managers in December of each year to identify the highway corridors they are interested in. Those segments would be removed from public contracts and an average rate ($/ha) from all mowing tenders closed in the following fiscal year would be agreed upon for the agreement and mowing will be carried out according to ministry’s standards. Agreements need to be signed by the Ministty and the municipality by January 31st of each year. Mowing tenders are not closed until the first week of April; therefore the mowing average rate is not determined until mid-April. Once the agreement is signed the municipalities are obligated to accept the set price based on the provincial average.