Crystal Springs Lakewise questions decisions, not people: writers

Summer village residents respond to column, letter in Pipestone Flyer

Dear editor,

We read with interest the article “The community of Crystal Springs sees major conflict over wastewater system” by Ron Lajeunesse, who is running for council for Crystal Springs with Ian Rawlinson, and are the authors of many heated, misinforming emails, postings and flyers, this being the most recent example.

The atmosphere in Crystal Springs is positive and upbeat when accurate information is provided. It remains a great place to live and play.

Residents have always had concerned about the low pressure line service (LPLS) proposed. In 2004 a proposed LPS was voted down by residents for many reasons and in 2009 the Associated Engineering (AE) Report on Community Consultation documents emphasized how to prevent this from recurring by recommending that the residents be kept fully informed of future proposals. The current wastewater communal system proponents, including Crystal Springs (CS) council, have almost totally disregarded this recommendation by pushing through an expensive capital project with their own authority predominant and little involvement with the CS ratepayers. Having to enquire separately about existing LPLS problems, concerned ratepayers have identified a large number of problems in other jurisdictions.

LakeWise, being responsible citizens, have shared knowledge as it has been sourced. It’s investigations sought LPLS reports to identify serious concerns with this low-pressure system design, hoping for its validity but discovering extensive problematic reports.

Lajeunesse sites the government investigation report to support his case. But the record shows that in early 2015 CS mayor Churchill said that the answers to the feasibility of a gravity system would be requested. The council minutes show that one study was finally requested in Oct., 2015, many months later. And, it appears that besides the delay, the proposal concluded with the engagement of a second engineering firm whose role was to discount any alternative plan to the previously chosen LPLS. This “second opinion” to the county’s engineering firm so the LPS project would proceed. The additional cost was cited as financial mismanagement, which resulted in the SVCS’s management being labeled as “improvident” by provincial inspectors. Lajeunesse accredited this second study to councilor Bell, but it was Churchill who made the motion. A knowledgeable resident recently stated the AE study, if read properly, does give options to improve low pressure and with improvements in drilling and power, other options are feasible that were not investigated, despite what the “pro” people say.

Lajeunesse stated that CS ratepayers did not wish to communicate with the Renewal Group (an advocacy group involved in the LPLS proposals) outside of the CS council. Past information supports that the Renewal Group and two members of the CS council have shared information and the contrary minded CS ratepayers did not trust the openness of directly dealing with the Renewal Group.

The Renewal Group continues to publish and distribute newsletters that state what council will do, rather than council advising the landowners of CS through communication. The July renewal flyer states council will allow residents to opt out of paying for their local connection to the proposed LPLS.

Residents of the south side of Pigeon Lake have concerns about maintenance of this LPS line that engineers and councilors have refused to directly address. Written information has repeatedly not supplied direct answers to possible problems and how they will be addressed. The wastewater system for CS will not be able to meet it’s 0.3 meters/sec. minimum flow velocity contained in its code of practice for many months of the year.

The risks of sewer back up on to private property and the risks of line freezing have had not openly been addressed. And, how these problems will be repaired and the costs relating to the repairs are never answered when the questions are put to Pigeon Lake councilors. Even the total cost of the LPLS project is not clear and residents seeking answers to these questions receive no replies.

Residents have every right to ask why other jurisdictions are having problems with their LPPS and how the identified issues should be addressed . The Pigeon LakeWise Society created a web page to present evidence of existing problems in other, similar low pressure systems. To continue learning about the conflicting issues those who have to pay the future bills, and anyone else interested in this topic, should review the reports available at https://pigeonlakewisesociety.wordpress.com

Engineers involved in the other jurisdictions, are now saying there are major problems after two to three decades. And, we also suggest that the uneven, and low, flow rates in Pigeon Lake’s proposed system will bring expensive costs to local residents relatively soon. Even maintenance costs for the proposed SITE and other related systems have not been presented clearly. The CS concerned ratepayers have been forced to use petitions to try to get this information out in the public arena.

You also published a letter to the editor in your July 12 edition that suggests an organized front in favor of the political system and the proposed LPPS. Resident Arnold Moerth stated that it is also past time for council to make all the necessary decisions and to communicate fully with residents”. We agree with this, but must say that information must be presented early and thoroughly, and not after contracts are being signed with engineering companies.

In conclusion, your readers should know that the petitions by the CS concerned ratepayers have been rejected on minor technicalities. To challenge these judgments would involve considerable time and money and such actions appear not to be practical at this time.

All the concerned ratepayers have sought is truthful, and detailed, communication from their appropriate councils. To this date, such information has been limited, preventing conscientious ratepayers from being able to learn the issues properly, and hopefully, support the on-going wastewater developments. To this date, such an action appears to be totally inappropriate and it appears likely that Pigeon Lake ratepayers will discover this when direct expenses for local improvements appear as surprises, as well as significant tax increases required to pay for major communal errors as they develop.

Darlene Bouclin and Linda Kerr, Crystal Springs

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