Pincourt residents plead for permanent solution to sewage plant odours
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Pincourt Mayor Yvan Cardinal and Town Manager Michel Perrier told concerned residents at the August 14 council meeting that the town is doing what it can to eliminate foul odours emanating from the sewage treatment plant on Boulevard Cardinal-Léger southeast of Chemin Duhamel.
The structure seems innocuous enough – an ordinary two-storey municipal building behind a gated entrance on Pincourt’s Boulevard Cardinal-Léger southeast of Chemin Duhamel that treats the town’s waste water.
It’s not the building that bothers area residents. Rather, it’s the persistent rank odours that have been emanating from the sewage treatment plant that waft invisibly throughout the neighbourhood. The smells have distressed homeowners to the point where they say they’ve had to stay indoors almost all summer with the windows shut because sitting or doing anything outside is intolerable.
Residents Matthew Riopel and Jeanne Kunz brought their concerns about the odours and the possible ill-effects it could be having on them and their neighbours directly to Mayor Yvan Cardinal and Town Manager Michel Perrier during the monthly council meeting on August 14.
Riopel and Kunz both pleaded with Cardinal and Perrier to take their concerns seriously and find a way to permanently eliminate the odours. Riopel’s frustration stems from being unnecessarily housebound. He said he and his wife are unable to fully enjoy their property outdoors and are hesitant to even invite guests for supper.
“Most of you live in your comfortable homes. You can have your barbecues and have people over, which is amazing. I bought my house in Pincourt because it’s beautiful and I love it. I want to invite friends over for a barbecue, but I can’t. It’s embarrassing,” Riopel told council.
“It’s a nightmare that I’m living in. No one seems to know in Pincourt that this is a real serious issue. Maybe if the entire city was made aware of it, they could help. Maybe there’s something we can all do collectively to find a solution to this problem because honestly, I don’t see you guys doing anything about it,” said Riopel.
‘Prisoner in my own house’
Kunz shares Riopel’s sentiment. She doesn’t use air conditioning and tries to keep the windows open whenever she can. “It’s impossible to sleep or eat meals when the odor is strong. The problem has been going on every day especially in the evening. I have to keep the windows closed even though it’s 40 degrees outside. I’m a prisoner in my own house,” said Kunz.
Pincourt’s sewage treatment plant has had its share of problems since at least September 2013 when The Journal first reported on the issue. Five residents who lived on Rue des Frênes spoke to the newspaper at the time about severe odours that kept them confined indoors for most of the summer.
Renovations to the plant were made at the time under a combined federal/provincial infrastructure program that included the installation of a new electro-dehydration machine for waste management.
Less than two years later in August, 2015 Pincourt council adopted a resolution to install a new turbine that was supposed to permanently eliminate all the foul odours from the plant. The cost of the turbine and installation was $120,000. A tall chimney was also considered to disperse the odours but the plan was scrapped in favour of the turbine.
Scope of problem reduced
While the town may not have yet succeeded in completely eliminating all the unpleasant smells, Cardinal said the renovations and new equipment installed over the past few years have substantially reduced the geographic scope of the problem. Fewer households are now affected than five years ago.
Cardinal said the unprecedented consistent hot weather this summer could be one factor for the poorer air quality. He added that work crews are looking into the possibility that some of the equipment may need to be replaced.
Town Manager Perrier acknowledged there still is an odour issue but agreed the town has significantly reduced its severity. “We’re very much aware of the problem,” he said. “Our fire and public works departments are located next door to the treatment facility. They have to deal with this issue too. We’re working to resolve it and find a permanent solution.”
Ministry red tape
The town is also apparently being hampered by red tape from the provincial Ministry of Environment, according to Perrier.
“The Environment Ministry has a say in everything we’re doing in that plant,” Perrier told Riopel during the meeting. “They’re not known for their efficiency in treating files that are submitted to them in a very quick manner. We’re trying our best but we’re restrained by the ministry right now. Rest assured, we’re very aware of the situation. We’re as disgusted as you are about this.