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'It's like living next to a dump' says Yarmouth County resident


Lake George resident Adam Russell looks out from his property and is disgusted and concerned by what he sees. Where once there was natural growth alongside his property, it now looks like a landfill – barren and littered with plastic and other items.

Adam Russell on the land next to his property in Lake George.

The only relief from the view comes when the land is covered with snow.

Last year the Town of Yarmouth hauled in truckloads of Class B compost. While in Lake George, the town says this specific property is not within the Lake George watershed.

The town says the Class B compost (which sometimes the town also gives away to farmers) was brought onto the property as part of a reclamation of the land. The town purchased the property years ago when an old sawmill was located on it and says there while was natural growth happening, there was no undergrowth taking place. Hence the plan to spread the compost.

Russell watched truckloads of compost being brought onto the site. 

Now he stares onto the eyesore wondering what impact it could be having on the water his family used to drink from their well – used to drink, he says, because now  his family only drinks bottled water and has been getting their well water tested. So far, so good. Still, he worries and he's not sure if he trusts the results.

Town resident Garnet Horton is also very concerned by the situation. He questions whether plastics and other materials on the property will leach into the soil and run off into the town’s water supply. He is so concerned that he brought some town councillors to the site on Jan. 9 to walk the land and to see the mess for itself.

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood, who was out of town and wasn't part of the walkabout, says while the area looks awful, there is no threat posed to the watershed since the property is half a kilometre from the watershed, which in itself is an additional distance from the lake. The town also says compost is tested before it leaves the facility.

“There are no active pathogens, which means it’s safe,” Mood says, "It just looks terrible."

Still, Russell and Horton have their doubts. As do other residents of the area.

WHY SO MUCH DEBRIS?

The town says although screening is done, not everything is caught. And the town can’t control what comes to its compost facility inside green carts.

“We really need to be careful what we’re putting in our green bins. It’s not laying blame because we need to get this situation fixed, but we need to be careful,” Mayor Mood says.

The town says when the Class B compost was brought to the site last fall the intention was to seed the land so that vegetation grows again. Trees were also planted, although some have since uprooted. The seeding is now only planned in the spring.

CLEAN UP?

The issue of possible cleanup has been added to the Jan. 14 town council agenda. The item being brought forward by Councillor Ken Langille reads, “That staff be directed to advise council, in a timely fashion, on suggested options for the clean up of plastics and assorted debris resulting from the spreading of the compost “overs” on the town-owned former sawmill property in Lake George.”

 

The town says there is no plan to truck in any more compost to the property.

The town’s capital budget includes a vacuum-piece of equipment to add to the compost facility that will run over the top of the conveyor to remove as much plastic as it can. The town is wondering whether this might be an option to clean up the site in Lake George as well.

Based on the amount of debris, though, the town will have its work cut out for it.

“They mowed the whole property down to nothing and then they hauled in that,” says a frustrated Adam Russell, who has to live alongside it. “It’s like living next to a dump.”

(The town told this newspaper that if Russell does have a problem with his well due to this situation it will work with him to remedy that. At the council meeting it further made a motion to say it would reimburse anr residents of the area that had to get their wells and water tested.)

“I picked up probably two garbage bags on the edge of my property one day. I thought about taking the garbage from here and dumping it on the town lawn – you can dump it on my property, I can dump it on yours. But then I’d be getting a fine,” Russell says. “This is totally unacceptable to dump next to somebody’s house. I sit on my deck to enjoy things, not to look at garbage.”

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