|Tim Mather is one of the few people still living in the north end of Lynnview Ridge. All around him are cul-de-sacs full of abandoned houses and duplexes with big "no trespassing" signs in front yards.
Most of his neighbours, an estimated 1,000 people, took a settlement from Imperial Oil after finding out the soil in their yards was contaminated with lead and hydrocarbons from the companys former operations.
But Mather, vice-president of the Millican-Ogden Community Association, remains determined to stay and is becoming increasingly angry that Imperial Oil hasnt even begun cleaning up the area almost four years after Alberta Environment ordered it to.
Imperial Oil has fought Alberta Environments cleanup order at the environmental appeal board and through a judicial review, but lost both battles. Imperial Oil and the provincial government have been in mediation for over a year now on how the cleanup will proceed.
Meanwhile Mather and his family are still being exposed to lead and hydrocarbons in the soil underneath their property.
"(Imperial Oil) has been mandated by the government to clean it up
. To me the government is being irresponsible by not enforcing their legislation
. You cant leave individuals in the middle where theres (environmental protection orders) in place but no cleanup being enforced," he says.
Mather suspects that lead exposure may have contributed to his two kids attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He says the biggest irony is that his house was built to high environmental standards with grey-water recycling and a large greenhouse with huge windows to generate heat and to grow vegetables for his family. Mather says he didnt take the settlement offered by Imperial Oil because it didnt come near to covering the cost of his home.
He says the City of Calgary should be putting more pressure on the provincial government to resolve the problem because the city owns a lot of land in the area, including environmental reserve along the Bow River and the site where Imperial Oils refinery was located. While the issue is unresolved, local schools no longer have enough kids to be sustainable and businesses have closed, he says.
The Imperial Oil problem is just one of many the Millican Ogden Community Association is wrestling with at the moment. Trichloro-
ethylene, a chemical used to de-grease train engines and cars, is also leaking into groundwater in Ogden from CP Rail railyards. CP Rail, Alberta Environment, the city, the health region and the community association are meeting to try and resolve the issue.
"It causes people a lot of anguish. These (Imperial Oil and CP Rail contamination) both have significant potential health affects," he says.
Another looming headache for the association is a new 128-unit affordable housing project in Ogden. Mather says the association is extremely concerned about the fact that the housing is planned for a site that is currently contaminated with hydrocarbons.
Joe Ceci, alderman for the area, is promising a proper cleanup before any housing goes up.
As for Lynnview Ridge, Ceci says he hopes that the Alberta government and Imperial Oil will feel more "urgency" in the coming months to get the problem resolved.
"It really depends on the Alberta government taking action and that seems to be missing," says Ceci. "Its going to be four years in May and its far too long for people who are living with it on a daily basis."
Ceci says the city is in regular contact with the government and Imperial Oil, but the city has limited control.