Negotiations to connect a 51-unit complex with a failing septic tank to regional sewer systems have dragged on for four years. Now they have reached a “critical juncture,” said MPP Rick Glumac.
Port Moody-Coquitlam MP urges School District 43 (SD43) and the owners of the Anmore Green Estates (AGE) strata complex to resolve their differences so that construction of a new sewer connection to the 51 homes can begin before summer.
In a letter to SD43 officials, as well as a representative of the owners, Rick Glumac said both sides need to “focus less on the ‘sides’ and more on our common goal,” which is to fix the leaks. the faulty septic tank of the building complex. that have filtered to the surface on the nearby Eagle Mountain Middle lot since 2017.
“We have to find a way to finalize this and for that to happen both sides have to be ready to compromise,” Glumac said, adding that the students and teachers at the school, as well as the parents “have been waiting for a long time. to see a solution implemented.
Glumac’s reprimand comes following SD43’s conditional approval of a statutory right-of-way settlement at a special meeting held on December 23. The settlement will allow the construction of a sewer line on school property from the strata complex to a connection to the regional sewer system at Port Moody – just 50 yards away.
But the positive vote was preceded by a request from the strata to possibly extend the deadline of August 31, 2022, for the work to be completed. This sparked a strong response from the school district.
In a memo presented at the December 23 meeting, SD43 Secretary-Treasurer and CFO Chris Nicolls said that if the construction bids were over budget, “just not getting the job done or delaying it indefinitely should not be an option. “
Nicolls said a new pollution prevention order issued to the school district last October by the Department of the Environment is costing him more than $ 5,000 a month.
The order requires the erection of fences and signs around the area where leaking water contaminated with E. coli and fecal coliforms had previously been detected as well as the collection of monthly groundwater samples downstream of the septic tank of the stratum each year from November 1. to April 30.
A prescription issued to AGE at the same time requires him to perform dye tests of his septic system every November and March.
Failure by either party to comply with the orders could result in a fine of up to $ 300,000, six months in jail, or both.
In an e-mail to Tri-City NewsAGE spokesperson Brandie Roberts said the extension request relates to the legal agreements that must be in place for construction to continue. She added that the strata should be protected in the event of a delay related to the availability of contractors to do the work, sourcing of materials, or supply chain issues.
“The last thing we want is for the deals to be null and void and for the project not to happen due to an unforeseen delay beyond our control,” said Roberts, adding that the stratum is also asking that fees owed to the school district be capped at $ 164,000 so it’s not on the hook for additional expenses like SD43’s legal appeals to pollution prevention orders.
Roberts said the owners of AGEs had already funded $ 780,000 for the sewer connection, including $ 480,000 for administrative costs. She accused SD43 and others of playing politics with the sewage problem.
“This whole process was politically motivated and does not follow sound decision making,” she said, adding: “For AGE and as a parent, this is extremely disheartening.
In his memo, Nicolls said the school district continues to act in “good faith” to facilitate the resolution of sewage leaks from the failing septic system “but it has a fiduciary duty to manage its resources responsibly, including to recover costs which it should not have had to incur.
The presence of. coli and fecal coliform contamination in the water escaping from the Anmore Green septic tank was first detected in 2017. Protective fencing and warning signs were erected that winter. at the foot of a hill often used by Eagle Mountain students for play or as a shortcut home.
Negotiations to resolve the issue are underway with the various levels of government that have jurisdiction over a possible connection to the nearby sewer system, including the village of Anmore, the city of Port Moody, Metro Vancouver and SD43. They did not always go smoothly, and at the end of 2019 the province appointed a facilitator to help move the discussions forward.
Meanwhile, the parents’ frustration continues. A petition in 2020 urging the problem to be solved once and for all has garnered more than 3,500 signatures.
In its letter, Glumac acknowledged that all parties involved in the situation have come a long way, including preliminary work on the site and preparation of other logistical elements, but “we are at a critical moment”.