A group of Ladysmith residents are still frustrated at the lack of resolvent with a hydrocarbon issue along Forward Road.
Russel Barling led a delegation of residents speaking at last Monday’s regular council meeting with the issue still to be resolved.
Hydrocarbons were first detected closeby back in 2005 and it was concluded the source of contamination was Dalby’s Services Ltd. which is now closed.
“I wish we didn’t have to be here,” said Barling at the meeting. “Hydrocarbons have migrated onto Forward Road. None of our recommendations have ever been followed up. The town needs to have the problem resolved. Hydrocarbons are still present nearly a decade after they were first discovered.”
Barling stated the hydrocarbons are a threat to public health and studies into the situation has cost town taxpayers around $40,000.
The Town of Ladysmith have consistently stated it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment to clean up the problem.
In 2005, the ministry said “the contamination presents a high risk under normal conditions.”
“This has been a long standing problem,” said Coun Gord Horth at the meeting. “It’s important to note this has been an active file. It’s been taken seriously by council. The challenge has been a matter of jurisdiction and it’s the ministry’s jurisdiction. The town has petitioned the ministry many times to do something. It’s been a frustrating process and the levels of government have chose not to work on the jurisdiction.”
In 2005, the town asked the ministry to reconsider its position on the site and late last year, sent letters requesting more assistance,
The ministry indicated it would pursue if the problem became “high risk.”
John Manson, the town’s director of infrastructure services, also spoke at the meeting.
“I have done a quick review of the file,” said Manson. “In 2005, tests did show hydrocarbon contamination. The management of contaminated sites is provincial legislation. We’ve written to the ministry at least seven times. The responsible party is the property owner that created the contamination. The property has been offered for sale. If a new party was to come in, they’d be required to follow a contamination site profile and that wouldn’t go well.”
Manson admitted the chances of the site being sold with hydrocarbons still present are pretty slim.
“We’re open to talking to any interested parties but we can’t approve a building permit unless the work from the ministry is done,” he said.
All of the council members present and town staff believe the town must continue to lobby the ministry for action.
“I would like to take the strongest action possible, stating our frustration, and see us write a letter not just to the ministry but to the MLAs as well,” said Coun Steven Arnett who chaired the meeting in Mayor Rob Hutchins’ absence.”The town can’t go into the ministry’s jurisdiction. We will act in whatever parameters we can act, in due diligence. We’re committed to working with you (Barling and residents of Forward Road) to the best of our abilities. We are all caught in this mut and mire.”
Barling has little sympathy for and with the town.
“The town has said it is a victim and I don’t understand that. Dalby’s continued to be renewed a business licence. You should have said the licence was subject to them cleaning up.”
City manager Ruth Malli said “the ability to withhold that is very limited.”
Barling also believes there has been a transparency issue on the town’s part, which Arnett disagreed with.
“Nobody would withhold information that out the health of our residents at risk,” said Arnett.
Forward Road resident Jim Noone claims he recently saw Mayor Rob Hutchins digging in the area for the apparent contaminated tank setting off the hydrocarbons.
“The mayor had no protective clothing on. I’m astounded he would put himself at risk not only the whole street. One spark would’ve set the whole thing off,” he said.
Noone also believes the town has “never acted on any recommendations given” by the Forward Road residents.
“There has been action, I’m sorry it hasn’t satisfied you,” said Arnett in response to Noone. “If there are legal constraints on what we can share, that’s the way it is. We are prepared to show up in an office if we have too.”