Reader responds to Committee for Concerned Electors in RM of Keys

Hopefully this letter will address some of the concerns of the Committee for Concerned Electors in the RM of Keys No. 303.

The Hamlet of Crystal Lake has an impressive and comprehensive website, everything from boat usage to water quality. The effort made to protect and preserve your precious lake is admirable, and so it should be.

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However, this did not come overnight. As is alluded to on your website, at one time you were allowed to use ‘privies’. After disallowing these, cabin owners installed septic tanks, without official supervision and on the trust that they would be properly installed and maintained. These are not inspected annually nor are they ever inspected, it seems. Some must be getting old already. Which cabin owners can honestly say that they know 100 per cent that their tank is not leaking?

And over the years when the septic tanks were emptied, did anyone inquire as to where the contents were going? Often it was dumped on the land, sometimes at the gravel pits along the Assiniboine; all this on the Fulton Flats aquifer. Not till April of 2014 was there a bylaw enacted that permitted the contents of the Hamlet of Crystal Lake septic tanks to be trucked to the Stenen lagoon.

Let’s consider the Stenen lagoon. Situated on the Empress aquifer, this is a lagoon, the Water Security Agency (WSA) official said, that is at least 50 years old. Lagoons built at that time were not built with compacted clay, bentonite and a liner. This same official mentioned that the lagoon drains into Stoney Creek, which drains into the Assiniboine.

To this day, which can also be confirmed by the WSA, farmers are asked where they would like to have their septic tanks emptied: in the lagoon, for an extra fee or on the land (thus on the aquifer.)

In reference to poultry operations, great strides have been made in how they are run and how manure from these operations is handled. They are closely monitored and inspected regularly. For your information, did you know that the manure from our local poultry operation is regularly dumped near the Fulton Flats?

In closing, perhaps the Committee for Concerned Electors in the RM of Keys No. 303 should consider the following: Concern and caring for the environment has taken years to evolve; it is still evolving. Means and methods for increasing environmental protection are evermore improving. Can we not believe in that progress?

There are court cases that have set precedents where Hutterite Brethren have won the right to set up their colonies on land that was not previously zoned for communal living. Having considered this and the given time frame, the council of the RM of Keys No. 303, in their wisdom, decided to amend our by-law for the Hutterite land only. Had they not done so, all ratepayers of this RM would have “shared” the court costs.

Finally, the RM of Keys is a community of people from many different cultures, backgrounds, experiences and opinions. Surely we can co-exist on a higher level of understanding and acceptance than what has at times been witnessed at the public meetings.

No one in this whole picture is fault free, but we need to move forward with honesty and trust and cooperation. Community does not exist well on an “I win; you lose” scenario but rather on a “win-win” solution. Please inquire at your RM office as to how council is working to achieve this goal.