Dear Verte Homesteader Community Residents:
As you are likely aware, Alberta Environment and Parks issued a notice to approximately 140 homes, likely including your residence in the Verte Homesteader Community. The letter says that Alberta Environment and Parks will be conducting further environmental sampling this spring in and around your community as a precautionary measure.
This announcement came without notice to us, the land developer, and we think it is important to share with you some important information that was not provided by the Government of Alberta.
We are confident that your community is safe. Most importantly, we need to reiterate that there is no evidence of health concerns related to the soil or groundwater based on the extensive testing and analysis that we have done over the past several years.
Previous Planning, Investigations and Remediation
In advance of proceeding with any development on this site, extensive remedial planning for the areas including your community was prepared and in fact supported by Alberta Environment and Parks and City of Edmonton.
Dozens of different soil and groundwater investigations were part of the planning, remediation and development process. In fact, during the period 2010-2015, a number of third-party environmental companies tested approximately 800 soil and groundwater samples and prepared some 20 reports. This work was completed in addition to more than 60 site investigations that included extensive sampling undertaken by Domtar going back decades, and before we even acquired the site.
The environmental investigation reports were provided to the Government of Alberta over the course of several years and have been posted on the Government of Alberta’s Environmental Site Assessment Repository website.
Government Approval for the Redevelopment
Development of your community followed stringent environmental rules as prescribed by AlbertaEnvironment and Parks. In fact, authorizations were given by Alberta Environment and Parks based on the findings of the tests.
We worked diligently with Alberta Environment and Parks and the City of Edmonton for years in the planning and remediation phases of the redevelopment. The development of the community 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.
We are confident that the assessments and remediation we completed were thorough, comprehensive and accurate, and fully addressed the prior contamination issues and that no one is at risk.
Addressing Issues Through the Appropriate Processes
When concerns were raised by Alberta Environment and Parks in the last few years in relation to specific sampling that had been undertaken of the berm and other undeveloped areas on the neighbouring lands, we took the matter to the Environmental Appeals Board, an expert tribunal designated under the legislation to decide these matters. The issues are currently before the Board. We respect the process set out in the legislation and are working to have the matters assessed by this independent expert tribunal. We are committed to resolving these matters in a safe, responsible and timely manner.
Creating Concerns in the Community
We are deeply troubled about the concern that the Government of Alberta has created for community residents and how they went about it.
We have extensive environmental expertise, and a long positive history of successful remediation and redevelopment. Human health and the environment are core values of our company and we would not compromise on our responsibility to create safe environments for communities.
We remain committed to keeping in contact with you as we work through this issue. We have attached to this letter a Frequently Asked Questions document which provides additional information. We encourage you to visit our webpage at http://bit.ly/vertehomesteadercommunityinformation that we will be updating as more information becomes available. In addition, you can contact us directly via email at email@example.com and we will get back to you.
A number of residents have expressed concern about the process and actions of the Government of Alberta. You can contact Government of Alberta elected officials directly:
Minister of Environment and Parks, Hon. Shannon Phillips at 780-427-2391, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or your local MLA, for Edmonton Beverly-Clareview and Minister for Economic Development and Trade,Hon. Deron Bilous at 780-644-8554, email: email@example.com.
John Dill, Managing Partner, Cherokee Canada