Rural neighbours need to stick together


Dear Editor,

Many of us living in rural Wheatland County have had enough, to the point we are speaking out. And we are doing so in the hopes of getting some much-needed change in our area – and to alert our neighbours in Rocky View County and other municipalities, so they don’t wind up in the same mess.

We are dealing with what is supposed to be a compost facility in our area, but it’s more like a giant dump.

We deal with a constant, putrid smell, which varies from strong sulfur to rotting garbage or chemical smell, depending on what is going on at the site that day or which way the wind is blowing.

GFL Environmental operates this site, which is a few kilometres north of Strathmore. A quick drive-by and you will see giant piles of sulfur, plastics and other garbage piled so high the six-foot fence surrounding the perimeter ought to be an embarrassment to GFL. The fence is clearly not doing much to keep debris in, as evidenced by neighbouring lands often littered with this junk.

I’m no expert, but in my opinion, large piles of rotting organic materials do not make a compost facility.

You may know sites like these attract seagulls. Those birds ate the seed on the neighbouring field just as fast as it was put down, and that crop failed.

If Hollywood is looking to shoot a sequel to Lord of the Flies, producers might want to pop in on a neighbour. House siding is literally black with flies, and fly bags are put out and filled within hours. Growing up in the country, you’re not adverse to some flies, but this is truly something you have to see to believe.

We’ve tried the usual routes to get GFL to clean up its act. Our local council in Wheatland County has tried to help, but their hands are tied as the monitoring of these things seems to be of provincial jurisdiction. Our MLA has tried – to no avail – to get GFL to the table, along with AB Environment officials and residents. GFL has reduced the size of the sulfur piles, but at this point, we would like to see some independent soil, air and nearby well-water testing. We have lost trust with the company and its processes to regulate, and are concerned for local water tables and the air we breathe.

You get the impression it’s out of sight, out of mind for these folks. It’s disappointing to those of us who live in the area, and a quick search shows residents in Kneehill County have issues with another GFL facility.

Our property values are decreasing, and some of us wonder if the acreages listed for sale near the site will sell at all.

Dennis Kiemeny

Rural Albertan


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