The Village of Anmore must join the Metro Vancouver Sewerage and Discharge District (MVS&DD) to allow a strata complex within its borders with a failing septic system to hook into Port Moody’s municipal sewer system.
But that hookup could be limited to the 51 properties that comprise Anmore Green Estates, with the strata bearing all the costs of membership and the hook up, according to David Morel, the assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
In a letter sent last Wednesday to Anmore mayor John McEwen, Morel confirmed the fecal coliform and e coli contamination that was first detected at the base of a hillside field adjacent to Eagle Mountain middle school in Anmore and Heritage Woods secondary school in Port Moody last September was human in origin. That was the conclusion of an analysis of surface water and soil samples conducted by Keystone Environmental in January and submitted to Coquitlam School District 43 last March.
The ministry issued a pollution abatement order to the strata complex last November and on Dec. 23 heavy blue steel fences were erected to prevent children from accessing the area. Keystone’s report to the school district recommended those fences be kept in place until the contamination issue is resolved.
Morel’s letter was a response to several concerns raised by Anmore council during a closed-door meeting he held June 7 with all of the village council as well as the MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam, Rick Glumac.
In a follow-up communication to the ministry, Anmore’s chief administrative officer, Juli Halliwell, reiterated the village’s skepticism about the nature and origin of the contamination, as well as the validity of two engineering reports — one of them peer reviewed by an independent engineer — that recommended the only long-term solution to ensure no further incidents of contamination would be to hook the strata into Port Moody’s municipal sewer system, just 67 metres away.
Halliwell also affirmed the village has no desire to join the MVS&DD, which administers municipal sewer systems and the cost of running them for all of Metro Vancouver. She said keeping properties in the village on septic systems is a “means of protecting its semi-rural character.”
The dithering has left the vice president of Anmore Green’s strata, Brandie Roberts, pessimistic a solution can be achieved before the next school year begins.
“This is extremely discouraging to AGE strata not only as homeowners, but as parents of children in these schools and members of the affected communities,” Roberts said.
Diane MacSporran, the president of the Parent Advisory Council for Eagle Mountain middle school, said she’s been forwarding copies of the letters to other school parents in advance of a special meeting of the council that is being held Tuesday at 7 p.m. That meeting, in the school’s library, is expected to include the ministry’s Morel, as well as its compliance section operations manager, Dan Bings, Anmore’s mayor, MLA Glumac, the chair of School District 43’s Board of Trustees, Kerri Palmer-Isaak, and representatives from Anmore Green.
“(We) hope to have a good turnout,” MacSporran said. “Nobody want to put children at risk, that is a fact.”
Pressure may be needed to solve the problem, Roberts said. “Community involvement is now the only way a timely resolution can be found.”