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Tim Hortons in Steady Brook could close
Diane Crocker, The Telegram November 26, 2015
The future of the Tim Hortons location in Steady Brook is in jeopardy if some improvements to the town’s water system or protocols to promptly address issues aren’t soon put in place.
“Closing that location is on the table,” Stephen Boutcher of Boutcher Holdings, owner of the site, told The Western Star on Wednesday.
Steady Brook has long been plagued with issues associated with its surface water supply. The town has a plan to drill wells on top of Marble Mountain to provide it with a clean, reliable source of water, but the project continues to be hit with delays.
That leaves businesses and residents continually dealing with boil orders and poor quality water.
Boutcher said the situation is having a huge impact on his business.
“I don’t quite think that the town understands, nor do the public understand, why it is that we are closed so frequently,” he said.
From a few hours to a few days at a time, the restaurant has had to repeatedly close its doors, mainly because of boil orders, in the five years it’s been owned by Boutcher Holdings.
“We put people’s health ahead of making money and business,” said Boutcher when it comes to making the decision to close.
He said the company has done everything it can to deal with the water issues and has invested heavily in the location and keeping it open. That includes installing a state of the art filtration system in the restaurant.
When a boil order is implemented the restaurant has to close for a short time so that the filters on the system can be changed to ones designed for that purpose.
But there’s times the system will become overwhelmed with the poor quality of the water and has to be shut down for maintenance. When that happens the restaurant is often closed for longer periods.
The restaurant serves between 750 and 1,000 people day and is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If the closure occurs in the middle of the day and it takes three or four hours to fix whatever the issue is at the time, Boutcher said it often makes sense to remain closed for the day.
He said Steady Brook is a beautiful spot that has great potential as a tourist destination.
“But it’s not functioning as efficiently as it should and the main reason is water.”
He’s not the only business person upset. Joe Dicks of Marble Inn and Resort has spoken out many times.
But Boutcher feels like the complaints are falling on deaf ears. The town apologizes, but there’s no change.
He said the town needs to be more proactive in dealing with its water issues, to have spare parts for equipment on hand so that long-term boil orders are not needed and has to do more to provide that reliable source of water its been promising.
If some of those things were in place it would alleviate some concerns, but without it the short-term viability and the long-term viability of the site is definitely in question.
Town doing its best to solve water woes: mayor
Diane Crocker, The Telegram November 27, 2015
Mayor Peter Rowsell doesn’t relish the possibility of losing a business from Steady Brook, but when it comes to the town’s water issues he said the council is doing all that it can.
“You always have to be concerned about losing a business; it’s a tax revenue base,” he said Thursday to news the Tim Hortons restaurant in the town could close because of the impact the town’s ongoing water issues are having on it.
Steady Brook is on a surface water supply, heavy rainfalls put sediment in the system and most of the water running out of taps in the town is discoloured. It’s also subject to frequent boil orders. The most recent one has been in place for more than 10 days with no sign yet of being lifted.
Rowsell agrees that town should have had issue solved at least two years ago, but everything is delayed and right now the solution to the problem is cost prohibitive.
A tender to drill wells on top of Marble Mountain as a source of water came in at $800,000, nearly double the amount budgeted for it.
Rowsell said increasing taxes to raise the money is not an option because people wouldn’t be able to afford the rates. So, instead the town is looking to the province and hopes to secure additional funding in the next budget.
Coun. Claude Wilton, chair of the town’s public works committee, said the tender will be called again in the new year and he’s hoping it will generate more interest this time around as only one company bid on the project the last time.
He’s also sure the town can get it down a lot cheaper than the $800,000 bid.
When it comes to the repeated boil orders he also said it’s not the town’s fault.
The boil orders are implemented because of provincial regulations and the town needs to have three good samples come back before an order can be lifted. Wilton said the town is at the mercy of the schedule of provincial workers to get that done with no testing happening on weekends.
“We are trying to do the best we can. We’re all suffering.”
Fort McMurray First Nation launches $16-million lawsuit against coal company
Ryan Cormier, Edmonton Journal November 26, 2015
The Fort McMurray First Nation has launched a $16-million lawsuit against an Alberta coal company after 670 million litres of waste water spilled into the Athabasca River.
Chief Ronald Kreutzer filed the statement of claim on behalf of the Fort McMurray First Nation, stating that anyone who lives near, or has used, the Athabasca River, Plante Creek, Apetowun Creek or Peace-Athabasca Delta since the October 2013 spill are a member of the class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit follows the spill of contaminated water and sediment Oct. 31, 2013, that flowed out of a broken tailing pond at the Obed Mountain Mine near Hinton. The waste flowed through creeks connected to the Athabasca River.
Coal Valley Resources operated the mine as a subsidiary of Sherritt International. Westmoreland Canada Holding, a subsidiary of a U.S. company, obtained a controlling interest in Coal Valley after the spill. The lawsuit names all three companies.
Statements of claim contain allegations not proven in court.
Kreutzer’s lawsuit claims the spilled waste contained dangerous levels of mercury, selenium and lead. Subsequent tests showed elevated levels of toxicity in the river system, in fish and nearby livestock. “The effluent and resulting increased levels of toxins prevented and continue to prevent class members from safely hunting, fishing or harvesting resources from their historical lands and waterways, including drinking water.”
Exposure to the waste material could lead to an increased risk of certain cancers and reproductive disorders, the lawsuit says.
The spill was a result of Coal Valley’s inability to properly construct and inspect the tailing pond prior to the spill and their failure to warn people and protect waterways afterward, Kreutzer claims.
In October, Coal Valley Resources and Sherritt International were criminally charged in connection to the spill. The companies each face six charges under Alberta’s Environmental Protection Act, Public Lands Act and Water Act. The maximum combined fine for all six charges is slightly more than $2 million
In the weeks following the spill, the province advised downstream communities not to draw water from the river and farmers not to let livestock drink from it.
National flood program needed because of climate change, Edmonton audience hears
Bill Mah, Edmonton Journal November 26, 2015
The head of the Insurance Bureau of Canada called Thursday for governments and industry to create a national flood program to deal with the growing costs of destruction from weather events spurred by climate change.
“There is tremendous value in a more collaborative approach between the private sector and different levels of government to solve a problem that has been growing in frequency and severity,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of the national insurance industry association, before a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Edmonton.
“You just go back to the 2013 floods here in Alberta — the largest insured loss in Canadian history, one of the largest natural disasters in Canadian history. A national flood program, we believe, would offer a much more mature, comprehensive and disciplined way to compensate people as a result of damage from flood.”
Floods that swept across much of Alberta in 2013 cost more than $6 billion. Water has replaced fire as Canada’s No. 1 cause of home insurance losses by a wide margin, Forgeron said. In 2009, water accounted for 40 per cent of claims, followed by fire at 29 per cent and wind at 16 per cent, IBC figures sow.
The insurance industry predicts the frequency of severe weather events will only get worse because a warmer atmosphere holds more water and unleashes larger and more frequent storms.
The private sector is starting to offer Canadians more flood coverage, but the industry is limited in what it can do, Forgeron said.
“We can probably insure somewhere around 90 per cent of consumers, but the highest-risk consumers, just by the nature of how insurance works, would never be able to afford that coverage. Therefore, we’re calling on the different levels of government to work with us to arrive at a solution that would allow those people most at risk to be able to find affordable and available flood cover.”
That remaining 10 per cent includes the 800,000 to one million properties at greatest risk of being flooded because they are built in river valleys or on floodplains.
Forgeron didn’t offer any detailed suggestions on how a national flood program would work. But he said insurance companies, governments and consumers must all act.
“The private sector has to step up as we’re doing and make the coverage available to 90 per cent of the population. If consumers are at risk of flood, they take the measures that they can to mitigate that risk. There’s a role for government, but exactly how you define those roles, that’s where the collaboration and the discussion needs to come.”
In his speech, Forgeron said the bureau has identified four elements that should be in place to lay the foundation for a national program:
- There should be accurate, up-to-date national flood-hazard mapping, which the industry has started developing and will share with governments.
Cracks in track led to Banff train derailment that dumped waste in river, finds report
The Canadian Press November 26, 2015
BANFF, Alta. — The Transportation Safety Board has determined that a fractured piece of railway track caused a derailment last year that sent coal ash waste into a creek in Banff National Park.
A report released Thursday found that a loose joint and minor cracks in the track had worsened over time with train traffic.
“Although performed in compliance with regulatory and railway requirements, the regular monthly, detailed, and visual track inspections did not specifically identify the deteriorating condition of the heel block assembly,” said the report.
After the Boxing Day accident, Transport Canada asked the railway industry to come up with specific rules for inspections and repairs. The agency also recommended rail crews should better discuss the risks of hazardous loads they might be carrying.
Fifteen cars on the Canadian Pacific Railway train went off the tracks and destroyed a bridge near the resort town. A coal combustion by-product called fly ash, as well as soybeans, spilled into 40 Mile Creek.
The ash, which came from the Boundary Dam power plant near Estevan, Sask., is used to make concrete.
It has hazardous characteristics that include the ability to smother sediment organisms. It’s also toxic when inhaled, but is not classified as dangerous under the Dangerous Goods Act.
The report said no one was injured in the derailment, but one crew member sought medical attention after inhaling the ash. The train’s conductor was not aware of the risks of the substance, it said.
Most of the spilled soybeans were removed by vacuum, the report added. Crews worked to clean up the ash in the spring until the creek’s flow increased.
“It is anticipated that environmental monitoring will continue for three to five years and additional remediation may be necessary,” the report said.
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