Five residents who live near the Ashmont Sewer Lagoon approached County of St. Paul Council on Tuesday to question the necessity of the planned upgrades and what affects the lagoon will have on their health, property value, and standards of living. The main concern from the residents was if they were to develop detrimental problems from the lagoon, what would Council be willing to do to make restitution. Council ultimately decided that it could not make deals on hypothetical, but it would address the residents’ concerns with the engineering firm handling the lagoon upgrades.
Property owners near the lagoon, Randall Hynes, Calvin Hartly, Shane Murray, Al Joly, and Shane Lucas collectively wrote a letter to Council and appeared in chambers on Tuesday, March 8th to address their concerns and to appeal the development.
- Health: air quality & pollution
- Noise: incr. traffic from large trucks
- Soil Problems: gardens & well water
- Resale Value of Property: living next to lagoon would decrease value
Council noted that the existing lagoon needs upgrades because it is not up to code; thus why there is such a strong smell emulating from the lagoon. Once the upgrades are in place and the lagoon is of a proper size and depth, Council expects the smell to no longer exist. An example brought up was the Mallaig Sewer Lagoon, which is located behind the arena, near where Hayin’ in the 30’s activities are held. Council assured the group that it was their understanding, with the upgrades, the Ashmont Sewer Lagoon would be as unnoticeable as Mallaig’s; which Council and the group agreed does not smell.
As for the noise issues, Council agreed there would be an increase of traffic to the area, CAO Kitz expects two trucks per day hauling waste to the lagoon. The lagoon was shut down several years ago because it was not up to code, so the increase would be noticeable. It was brought to Council’s attention that the road leading to the lagoon was very small and narrow. Council will look into widening the roadway, something that would be a necessity once the upgrades are made.
Council assured the group that there are meeting all the setback standards put in place by Environment Alberta and there should be no issues with soil or gardening. They also noted that they are meeting the standards for well water and that should not be an issue either.
As for the resale value of the property, Council noted that the owners already resident near a lagoon, so upgrades to the lagoon should have little impact on the resale. If there wasn’t an existing lagoon already located near their properties that might be a different issue. Resale value is also a hard thing to determine in this economy noted Council, who points out that all property prices are down this year. Being able to gauge whether or not the value would be lower would be a tough equation for anyone to figure out.
The group asked Council what measures they would be willing to take to find some compromise or give the group some compensation. Suggestions were made to plant trees around the lagoon on the property owners side to help beautify the area. Council says they plan to put up fencing along the lagoon, as well as a burn and trees. They will look into planting trees on the other side of the fence.
The group poised the question, what if we get sick, with serious illnesses caused from the lagoon? What is Council willing to do for us then and would Council put it in writing that they are responsible for future illness, if it can be traced back to the lagoon? Council’s answer was they could not make deals on hypothetical questions and should health issues arise in the future, the future is when they will deal with it.
Ultimately, Council agreed to bring the group’s concerns up with the engineering firm that is handling the upgrades. Council plans to implement a padlock system to trace who is dumping in the lagoon and how much. The lagoon will be better regulated and meet Environment Alberta’s setbacks and standards.
I truly believe these upgrades will make the lagoon better. I wouldn’t have supported this project if I didn’t believe it was for the better and it would improve the conditions. – Glen Ockerman Councillor for the County of St. Paul