On March 16, I received a newsletter from the Summer Village of Ma-Me-O Beach. How ironical! That was the same day the Province of Alberta’s budget was presented. Ma-Me-O’s missive was an attempt to justify the on-going unnecessary expenditures of millions of taxpayers’ dollars for a wastewater project that is not needed. The letter says so and at least one of the village’s councillors has publicly stated his cottage will not be connected to the “local system”. Our cottage has had a pump out system since 1983, a period of 34 years. Our annual services by the local septage trucking company have been exemplary for its reliability and timeliness.
Let’s change our focus a bit … to the “senior levels” of government. On March 16, the province announced that more than $10 billion will be added to Alberta’s debt which is forecasted to exceed $60 billion within three years. Our current government is continuing to spend excessively with the same rationale as the Tories during their regime: low oil prices (Sure would be appreciated if governments admitted they are just trying to buy our votes with the wasteful spending of our taxes).
Back to Ma-Me-O and its propaganda circular. A careful reading of it gratuitously acknowledged efforts of citizens to argue that “the system is not needed and that most ratepayers believe existing methods of sewage handling are adequate.” I agree! Further, the taxpayers believe the provincial and federal funding “should be spent on other initiatives”. Such funds could be spent on a project which would return the water quality of Pigeon Lake to the standards many of us experienced historically? Banning outhouses was one small step to improving recreational uses of the lake.
Council claims that “the overwhelming majority of the ratepayers support completion of the project.” Where is the unbiased, factual evidence of such “support”? Then the “Update” goes on to state that “this one-time opportunity to modernize our local infrastructure will have many benefits for our community including a healthier environment and increased property values.” As long as the water quality of the lake is toxic or otherwise polluted such high sounding “benefits” are unfounded and deceptive.
Then the propaganda circular admits that the project is “about six months behind schedule”, claiming the reason for the delay is the “high water table at Ma-Me-O.” Did the water engineers and other high-priced experts not discover such basic information when feasibility studies were done years ago? Who is covering the costs of such delays?
What makes this classic case of mismanagement so serious are two facts.
One has been stated above. Requiring property owners to have regulated pump out systems was enough to stop human sewage seeping into the lake; and, there were superior systems for wastewater treatment. One system could have been housed in a building the size of a double garage, would have cost an estimated $300,000 10 years ago, would have returned purified water to the lake and could have been undertaken by private, socially responsible property owners who would have turned the system over to the village when the capital costs were paid off … probably about now.
Read it and weep … for the taxpayers who have been “ripped off” … again.
Al Barnhill, Ph.D., Lethbridge