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Bragg Creek sewage treatment plant stalled

A potential solution to the 30-year-old water issue in Bragg Creek has been stalled until July 20.

A potential solution to the 30-year-old water issue in Bragg Creek has been stalled until July 20.

On June 21, Rocky View County council recessed a public hearing on rezoning of land intended for a sewage treatment plant to determine the legality of building the facility on an Environmental Reserve.

It will also research the possibility of a time extension for the $2 million in Federal and Provincial grant money, which may no longer be available if construction doesn’t start soon.

Lawyer Hugh Ham raised the question of whether the County, under the Municipal Government Act, could legally build the facility on the proposed site.

“It is undeveloped land that is supposed to be preserved in perpetuity,” said Ham. “(The MGA) states that an Environmental Reserve must be left in its natural state or used as a public park.”

The site, a 1.5-acre plot on the edge of the Elbow River, is heavily treed and contains steep slopes. It neighbours several acreages.

The project is to be completed in three phases. Phase one will cost about $3 million, and will include a 2,000 square foot building, pipes and infrastructure needed for treatment. It will serve about 240 people, including the Hamlet’s commercial area.

The completed facility will cost about $10 million and will provide sewage treatment to about 1,700 people living in the Hamlet and surrounding areas.

The legality of the plant was just one issue raised by concerned residents, who came out in large numbers to the meeting. Other concerns included traffic, odour, sound, wildlife, safety of treated effluent, property values and the topography of the site.

“I know that no one is going to buy my $700,000 house because of the wastewater treatment plant at the top of the road stinking up the area,” said Pauline Brown. “I believe this $3 million grant has been a pickle in your pot. It has caused you to look at sites that fit your budget, not sites that will be viable.”

Trevor Brown, a Bragg Creek resident, said the location was unsuitable for the proposed plant.

“It’s a steep side hill, it has fallen on the road more than once,” said Brown.

However, not everyone was opposed to the treatment plant. Gayle Gold, a local business owner and resident, supported the plan.

“I strongly support this initiative,” said Gold. “Bragg Creek has been under a boil-water advisory for years and the only way out of that is better waste disposal rather than septic fields.”

The community of Bragg Creek has been without safe drinking water for years as septic fields in the Hamlet area have contaminated the alluvial aquifer.

Sharon Bayer, director of the Bragg Creek Chamber of Commerce, said she wants to see the threat to the environment removed.

“I think it is a tremendous travesty that we continue to pollute the Elbow River,” said Bayer. “Alberta Environment is not far away from forcing us to do a dump and haul, which would be very expensive.”

Council began working on a site for a wastewater plant in 2008. It looked at several locations, but most were deemed unsuitable or too costly.

There is a sense of urgency to complete the project as the deadline for funding is fast approaching.

If the deadline can be extended, Division 3 Councillor Gordon Branson said the County might look at alternative sites.

“We have assumed that the timeline was fixed,” said Branson. “(If so) maybe we would look at a private alternate site. If we had this extra time, I would hope we would explore a little more widely.”

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