15 Feb 17

Lamadeleine Boulevard sewer cost dispute ongoing

Candice Vetter

Villager Staff

EMBRUN — A delegation of homeowners on Lamadeleine Blvd. in Embrun, represented by Guy Comeault, presented a petition regarding sanitary sewer construction to Russell Township Council on Mon., Feb. 6. Of property owners on the street, 100 per cent had signed.

Comeault also gave a short PowerPoint presentation explaining the complaints of the residents who have been requesting a sewer line up Lamadeleine for over a decade.

The petition states in part, “…we disagree with the proposed share to be paid by Russell Township. The pumping station and the paving of the street should not be costs factored into the final equation. Given the delay in advancing this project, the municipality should review the funding formula and absorb more of the costs.”

The projected cost per lot for the project is now over $21,000. Residents say they were told in 2007 that the cost would be about $10,000. A number which Mayor Pierre Leroux said, in a later interview, hadn’t been given out with any surety, that there had not been an environmental assessment, cost analysis or engineer’s report done, and the cost suggested was not a firm estimate.

However, homeowners appear to have a different opinion, and state that had the Township not delayed the project for various reasons, including stating the sewage lagoon did not have sufficient capacity, the project could have been completed for less. Now they balk at paying over twice as much as they expected, and especially resented that the cost appeared to include the pumping station and repaving the street.

The street has been in need of repaving since 2004. “At the time, they said they’d wait to repave until they made the sewer decision, and that would be in the next couple of years,” said Comeault in a telephone interview. He said that in 2007 they were told the sewer line was being considered and it would be feasible in 2008 or 2009. “Then in 2009 we were told the lagoon couldn’t handle it until it was expanded. They said they couldn’t accept our 25 houses but they could take hundreds of houses being built by developers.”

To that Leroux said developers had bought their capacity. Township Council said the same thing at the time.

In December, residents received a letter from Township giving them two options to vote on. Option A was in favour of the construction, accepting the costs and conditions established at the Nov. 29 Council meeting. Option B was cancelling the project. A majority of property owners was required, not just a majority of votes received, and the letter said property owners not at the meeting to vote would be contacted, and said, “…should communication attempts fail, the Township will consider the owner as being in favour of the project.” Comeault and some other residents were concerned about the default in-favour position. “Everybody wants to hook up,” he said, “but the price is crazy.”

They had not seen estimates or a cost breakdown, but believe the Township should absorb at least half of the capital cost and pay for the pump. The price may also change, as the project has not yet been resolved by Council or gone to tender.

Residents also understood that if they didn’t vote for the project their street would not be paved, but the Mayor disagreed. “If the sewer is not to go, their street will be paved,” said Leroux, “and the Township will pay for the paving.” Leroux also said the pumping station costs would be shared.

Lamadeleine Blvd. has municipal water and other services like electricity and cable underground. Homeowners have septic tanks on large lots. “If they hook up and remove their septic beds, they’ll be able to get more use out of their properties.” Hooking up would also remove the necessity to replace septic tanks in the future.