Left in the dust
Residents demand change from city
It’s terrible when you can’t even go out on your deck and have supper because of the dirt. Clarice Palsich, Resident
Residents in the Double J Landlease Community lot just want their street paved.
“It’s terrible when you can’t even go out on your deck and have supper because of the dirt,” said Clarice Palsich.
Palsich bought a new patio set and barbecue for her backyard, but never used it because the dirt was so bad, it would always go on their property. She saw it was coming from the unpaved Caribou Street East, and five years ago, began a campaign to get it paved.
She went to a number of council meetings and complained, explaining how bad the dust and dirt was. Palsich even went a step further and gathered her neighbours’ signatures for a petition and brought it to the city a number of years ago. Still, nothing was done about it.
Michael Pylychaty is another resident, also upset with the road. He said he would see big trucks destroying it and throwing dust onto his property.
“Isn’t this a backwards city? Anybody that does damage should be fined and have that money used to fix that pavement,” said Pylychaty.
He called the city police to watch the area for speeding drivers and even placed furnace filters on his windows to clean the dirty air. His deck and car were also smothered with dirt. Pylychaty also offered an alternative idea.
“If they can’t afford to put the pavement in, why don’t they put a speed limit here of 10 kilometers an hour and have cops there that will enforce the law?” he said.
By doing that, he said, drivers coming into the city might go down Athabasca Street East or down Thatcher Drive instead of driving through Caribou Street East.
Another upset resident is Wayne Vargo. He said he understands the city has money constraints, but they can always put some sort of material on the road to replace the gravel. He is more concerned with the traffic on that road and cars speeding.
“There’s trucks going to the (landfill) and the garbage isn’t covered. It’s supposed to be covered with tarps,” said Vargo. “I don’t know if it’s a truck route or not, but there’s heavy trucks down there too.”
He said the speed limit should be posted clearly, indicating that it’s 50 km/h, or dropped down to 40 km/h.
He said the municipality should also clarify if the road is meant to be used by heavy trucks. If it is, the city needs to do something about it.
“In the mornings when you go out, you can’t even see. It’s a hazard,” said Vargo. “When you come out here onto Caribou, there’s so much dust you can’t even tell if there’s a car coming or not.”
The last message Palsich got from the city was a notice on Aug. 23 2016 stating:
“That Caribou Street from 11th Avenue Northeast to the highway be placed in the 2017 Local Improvement Program.”
LIP is a system by which neighbourhoods can petition the city for work, such as a new storm drain or sidewalk, and share the costs with the municipality.
Palsich didn’t know what the LIP was at the time, but has since learned that a project can begin once the majority of homeowners vote for it. She said they already did that with their previous petition.
She and her neighbours knew they would probably pay higher taxes to get the road paved and were fine with that consequence.
“Nobody objected to that. They just wanted to get rid of this mess and (stop) having to breath it in,” she said.
The last time she went to city hall, she was told by the engineer’s office that approval and an agreement from the city and the owner of Double J Landlease Community was needed in order to get work done.
“Why does the guy who owns the park need a written contract? I don’t understand what that means,” she said.
Tim Clarke, manager of Double J Landlease Community said he went down to city hall to speak with the authorities on a number of occasions, expressing the concerns of the residents. He said the city was to call him back but they never did.
“My boss offered to pay for (paving) but they wouldn’t let him. I understand what the people are going through,” said Clarke. “You should take a look at the vehicles at the park on the topside of the hill there. There’s dust in the houses.”
The last time Clarke talked with the city was about two weeks ago.
Palsich said she finds it perplexing that the city needs approval from the community landowner when the mobile-homeowners pay taxes.
She went back to city hall trying to get more clarification and said her concerns were redirected to Josh Mickleborough, director of engineering services. She said she has had difficulties connecting with anyone who can answer her concerns.
“I don’t know where we’re at or what to do next. We’ve done everything we can to try to get them to do something with this road,” Palsich said.
According to city solicitor Myron Gulka-Tiechko, the project didn’t go ahead for a number of reasons.
At a Sept. 11 council meeting, a new bylaw had to be approved by city council showing the standard costs needed for road paving, sidewalks and sewer upgrades among other projects under LIP. The bylaw needed to be in place in order to proceed with any projects. It was approved.
“The most immediate problem was there was no uniform rates bylaw in place that would be able to calculate the expenses that would be required for the project,” Gulka-Tiechko said.
There was also a lot of turnover in the engineering department and projects that weren’t able to go ahead got lost in the shuffle.
“We’ve had such a huge personnel change in the engineering department. I think Josh Mickleborough has now been with us for two-years but in the previous five years, there were five different people in that position,” Gulka-Tiechko said.
Now that a uniform rates bylaw is in place and now that the city has steady staff in the engineering department, Gulka-Tiechko is hopeful projects can begin over the fall and winter.
“We’ll be making contact with some of the previous applicants for these LIP projects to see if they’re still interested in getting them done and providing formal notices,” said Gulka-Tiechko. “(We’ll also be) providing the actual estimates of the costs and then the private owners along the roads in all those areas would have to determine whether they can contribute to the costs as well.”
With many areas in the community also asking for upgrades, projects would be completed based on a priority lists.
Michael Pylychaty has to constantly clean his van because of the dirt from the road.
Residents in the Double J Landlease Community have to always deal with the dirt thrown from the road from Caribou Street East.