By J.W. Schnarr
Residents of Johnson’s Addition who went to the Municipal District of Taber annual general meeting seeking a date for a proposed open house regarding various sewer projects currently in the works for the area left the even disappointed, as there is still no date set for that event.
Ratepayers and members of M.D. council had a chance to discuss the issue further during a report by Jack Dunsmore, director of planning and infrastructure, on the evening of April 28 at M.D. council chambers, where the AGM took place.
In recent months, residents of the small hamlet west of Taber have been hearing about a communal septic field system the M.D. has been looking in to, as well as an option to tie in to the Town of Taber system, which is being explored by the town.
Acting Reeve Dwight Tolton said ultimately, the decision to go with one or the other (or neither) will be up to Johnson’s Addition residents, and that a “50-plus-one” vote would be the deciding factor.
“The goal is to get all of the information together, hold an open house and allow people a month or two to digest it and then get a consensus from residents before making a decision,” said Municipal Administrator Derrick Krizsan.
However, both Tolton and Division 4 Coun. Ben Elfring warned those in attendance that to reject the project now meant M.D. council would consider it a dead issue and move on to other projects.
“You get one chance at it,” he said. “Let me tell you, if it’s the third option (no system at all), it won’t ever come back in my lifetime. We’ve put a lot of work and time and effort to get to where we are now so if No is the answer, don’t come back in a year or two.”
“We’re cheap,” he added. “If we don’t have to spend the money, we won’t.”
Johnson’s Addition has had septic issues in the past, along with drainage issues, and both the M.D. and town have been seeking ways to alleviate those issues. However, some comments from ratepayers in attendance seemed to point to a divide within the community as to whether a large, expensive septic system is really what is needed in the community.
One comment involved a ratepayer who told council the need for the project was being pushed by a minority of ratepayers in the area, and that many who live in the hamlet had spent thousands of dollars upgrading their own septic systems while others did not. There was a worry the residents who had looked after their own septic issue would end up subsidizing those who hadn’t.
Tolton said he had heard of a number of issues in the past several years, including flooding and high water tables.
Division 1 Coun. Merrill Harris said council had originally hoped to hold an open house at the end of March, but there was still a number of questions which needed to be answered, including costs.
“We want to come to you and say, ‘this is what we can do’,” he said.
“The approach we’ve taken with this is that we are gathering all the information and we can make a decent presentation. If it’s viable, and something you like, and it’s a benefit, (council will move ahead with the project). If it isn’t, we’ve spent some money and gone through some work just to educate ourselves.”