Papers have been signed, and the troops have been rallied, all over the location of a new sewage lagoon to be built in the community of East Selkirk.
Late last month, concerned residents of the RM of St. Clements held a rally opposing the construction of a new sewer lagoon located near the banks of the Red River. Since the proposal was given approval by Manitoba Conservation, north-end Henderson Highway residents have been making use of the 30-day appeal process including issuing a press release to various media outlets. The release states the proposed site is not safe as it is a former CIL explosive manufacturing location. However, mayor Steve Strang with the RM of St. Clements explained the information being presented and distributed is not factual.
“The biggest thing is that the information that is being circulated is totally inaccurate,” said Strang. “We’re very frustrated with this. You have some people who have their own agendas that would like to see this squashed.”
The release sent out by the concerned resident’s (which the RM refutes) claims there is contaminant left over in the soil from this explosives plant, which negatively impact aquatic life. Residents opposing the lagoon also feel several other alternatives for the facility haven’t been explored, including hooking on with the City of Selkirk as well as the use of another site within the appropriate proximity.
“The site itself where the lagoon is going when you compare it to the old dynamite site, the old CIL site, that 75 per cent of the lagoon doesn’t even sit on the property,” explained Strang of the plans. “Only 25 per cent of it does and the site has been totally mitigated in that it was totally controlled through the Province of Manitoba’s through the previous owner, where they did extensive testing.”
Strang went on to explain all testing on the site was done to a United States standard and the testing conducted by the RM after they took ownership was also to that same standard. He told the Journal there is “no traceable amounts of any type of carcinogens in the ground what-so-ever”.
Other actions by the concerned citizens against the lagoon’s new location have also been undertaken. They have been sending out petitions and starting a social media campaign, however the Journal was unable to find their Facebook page which was said to have reports, letters and articles about the lagoon issue. One of the concerned residents, Al Prune, said the petitions are reaching a lot of Manitobans and within the North Henderson development alone around 75 per cent of residents have signed the petition.
“The petition has gone out all over the place and it’s spreading like wildfire,” explained Prune, who said the total number of people signed will not be known until after the weekend of Sept. 6.
Prune also claimed the petition will make its way to the legislative assembly.
“The petition is for two things. One, it is going to be read in the legislative assembly by some opposition members… and we’re also doing it for the petition for St. Clements on the conditional use. It’s kind of two-fold,” said Prune.
Meanwhile, Strang stands by the opinions of hired professionals that the site is very safe. He also went on to explain the RM is not about to risk its good reputation over one issue such as this.
“St. Clements has a great track record of being a municipality who has lead the way on protecting communities, as far as the water,” said Strang. “We have the largest set back of building within the south basin, we’re greater than the province at 150-feet. We’ve donated lands and worked with a group in order to deal with phosphate issues through IDC… We have secondary plans which protect the bay at Grand Marais… We’re the original people that address the issues of Devil’s Lake… We’re part of the Lake Friendly idea. We’re not going to risk all the goodness that we did, that we’ve done and we continue to do based on any type of bad decision.”
The RM of St. Clements council will be having a conditional use hearing regarding the East Selkirk Lagoon Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. Currently the land is zones industrial-commercial, which needs a conditional use to pass in order to proceed with the lagoon plans.