The community of VERTE Homesteader has generated government and media attention over the past few weeks. Late last month homeowners with the VERTE Homesteader area were informed of the government’s intention to undertake further testing of sites within areas of the community as a “precautionary measure.”
According to Marg Spafford, Homesteader Community League President, the action taken by the government came as a complete surprise to her and the community league executive. “We received no warning that the orders were being delivered nor did we have any idea there were issues on the sites.”
Development on the former Domtar site has been a subject of review for the last 10 years and the Homesteader Community League Executive has been actively engaged in this issue. The developer, Cherokee, has a national reputation for restoring brownfield sites and according to Spafford, has worked alongside the community to redevelop the area into a safe and useful addition to the Homesteader community.
Some 800-different soil and groundwater samples were part of dozens of environmental reports that went into the planning, remediation and development process of VERTE Homesteader. The test results and findings were provided to the government of Alberta and authorization to develop the area was given by the Government of Alberta in 2013.
“The development of VERTE Homesteader would not have proceeded without the necessary approvals from the Government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton, including the Remediation Certificate, approvals for subdivision, site plan, building permits for housing construction and the development permit to build the berm,” said John Dill, Managing Director for Cherokee.
The Community League executive and Cherokee are at a loss to understand why the government has issued the orders years after the permits and go-ahead were provided by the government of Alberta. According to Dill, “It is upsetting that the Government of Alberta went to such a length to publicly announce a plan to simply test the site as a precautionary measure creating unnecessary fear and apprehension within the community.”
The matter is currently awaiting a hearing date for review with the Alberta Environmental Review Board.
Cherokee has recently created a website www.homesteaderresponds.ca to keep community members informed of the updates to the issue. This article is published on the Homesteader Community League website here: www.homesteadercommunityleague.ca.