A new provincial program has been described as ‘very stringent’ as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented it to council on Wed. Feb. 5.
CAO White and two public works staff attended an Alberta Environment information session where they learned that municipalities are now under new legislation regarding lead testing.
This first phase requires at least 20 older homes to be tested between 2020 and 2021 to identify if they have a maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of five ug/l which is now done in the owner’s home versus in a random spot along the line.
This method will determine if the lines in the home or the service line connecting to the water main contains lead.
Another requirement is to have these samples taken between May and December with strict sampling protocols in place that outline what buildings will be selected and how the sampling is done.
“It’s like core samples in the oil wells. If there is a spike early it is most likely in the home,” said Coun. Tim Besuijen.
Administration found that there may be residents who wish to have their homes done even if their home is not selected.
Council tossed around the idea of having a lottery-style selection where residents who wish to be chosen are put into a draw with the 20 names being selected from the pot.
Anyone who didn’t get picked can still ask and pay for testing to be done. Alix has passed all of their lead testings in the past but the village does expect there to be a second phase to this project once 2021 is over.
Before changes came into effect, municipalities had to do one test per year.
Council was also concerned for the wellbeing of residents so they suggested even using something as simple as a Brita filter or point of use filtration system will help if a resident is concerned.
Council has chosen to get all 20 homes done within 2020.
Each test is $30 plus a $5 disposal fee. At $35, it will cost the village roughly $700 plus staff time.
A minimum $150 charge is added to the bill with the current company the village is using.
This will be covered in their current budget with an appropriate dollar amount set aside for next year.
Outstanding taxes waived
The property known as one filled with asbestos has since been removed safely.
The process cost the village $92,000, $62,000 of which was for the asbestos clearing alone as it was a much more extensive job than normal.
The home required an individual wash room and plenty of the old structure was immersed in asbestos which required more attention and care.
Since then, the village has been left with $52,482.13 worth of outstanding taxes.
The village ‘bought’ the property for $30,300 at market value which has been given to a lawyer to be held in trust pending transfer.
Once the transfer is completed it covers just under half of the cost of the remaining $22,502.96.
At this point, there is no way of recovering any costs.
Council passed a motion to waive the outstanding taxes.
Administration pointed out that “by clearing some of these properties off the books, we will be giving a more accurate representation of the village’s financial status.
CAO White also mentioned in her report that the village’s outstanding taxes have been the lowest they have seen in over a decade by the end of 2019.
More people have been approaching the office and are utilizing the Tax Installment Payment Plan.