Phase two of Mackenas Country Estates will soon be a reality.
Rocky View council approved a proposal to install individual sewage treatment units in the development, May 25, allowing for the construction of 21 homes, starting this summer.
“We have done a lot of work to come up with a wastewater solution and I am very pleased that the County recognized the science of an improved wastewater system,” said Kevin Peterson, developer of Mackenas Country Estates. “It is a clean solution.”
The 20-acre development, located just west of the City of Calgary, has been in the works since 2006, but was stalled because there was no acceptable solution for sewage.
Initially, the County was hoping the development, like the adjacent community of Elbow Valley, could tie into the City of Calgary’s sewer main through Rocky View’s infrastructure. However, a deteriorating relationship between the County and Calgary has made that unlikely.
“The developer has been given the approval to go ahead, should there be no modification of the City’s stance,” said Councillor Gordon Branson. “Now he is faced with multiple options.”
The sewage treatment units will use Jet BAT (Biologically Accelerated Treatment) technology, which has existed since 1955, but has not been used on a wide scale within Rocky View.
“It is a small, contained system that helps deliver clean water back into the ground,” said Randy Gibson, consultant for the Mackenas project. “It is out of sight, silent, odour-free and exceeds NSF/ASFI 40 standards.”
The units are manufactured to substantially improve the effluent quality beyond that expected of a septic tank, he added.
Historically, most country residential homes in Rocky View use septic tanks or fields, which have required at least one acre to function. Since last fall, however, the County’s involvement in Alberta Municipal Affairs pilot project has changed the way septic systems are evaluated.
“The science is in place to say that you can put these advanced treatment systems on a smaller lot size than we had previously thought,” said Branson.
“The new rules have no reference to lot size, they refer to soil suitability. Now you can have a country type of lifestyle on a smaller footprint. It makes sense.”
Under the County’s new rules, the developer submitted a level-four assessment, Rocky View’s most rigorous for on-site sewage treatment. That assessment revealed that proposed units were suitable for the site.
Despite the assessment, concerns have been raised about stormwater, odour, noise and potential malfunctioning of the units.
“I would like to have something proven in place,” said Kathy Moxley, Elbow Valley resident. “I don’t want to be an experiment.”
Reeve Lois Habberfield echoed Moxley’s worries, ultimately voting against the bylaw amendment.
“If we tried this on seven lots, I would be willing to do it on 21 lots,” said Habberfield. “I just don’t want to go from zero to 22 lots in one fell swoop.”
However, Gibson argued the system has been proven to be efficient and safe.
“It’s a proven system; we are not piloting it,” said Gibson. “The science supports this system, we feel it should move forward.”
Councillor Harvey Buckley agreed, saying this type of venture would become more prevalent in the future.
“It is new ground we are moving into today,” said Buckley.
“This type of new venture is inevitable.”