Delays plague alleged water contamination case
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 06:00 am
Seven years after it was launched, the case of a former MD of Foothills resident suing the municipality over alleged contaminated groundwater is on track to go to trial.
But, it might still be as many as three years before the case goes before a judge.
Ellen Alston is suing the MD for $8 million over developments she alleges sent feces-laden water onto her DeWinton-area property and contaminated her water well.
During an Oct. 4 hearing at Court of Queens Bench in Calgary, Justice M.H. Collins said if a trial is ultimately set, it may be scheduled for 2020, possibly even 2021.
Alston first filed her lawsuit in 2010. She said it’s frustrating to wait as much as a decade to see her case go to trial.
“Our justice system is broken,” she said. “It’s actually been 11 years since the MD was notified.”
A few steps still remain before a trial date can be set, namely the exchange of outstanding documents, such as medical reports and the MD’s technical report, as well as the completion of court filings.
Alston alleges her former property and its water supply have significant levels of pollution caused by water contaminated by feces and urine running off the DeWinton Riding Club. The club is located on land owned by the MD.
The result, Alston alleges, was she and her husband Les Vecsey suffered from a “slow systemic” poisoning from contaminated water that resulted in compromised immune systems and cognitive ability. The couple moved from the property in 2010, came back temporarily and permanently moved in 2011. The property was foreclosed and resold last year.
Alston is also asking the court to have the MD found in contempt of court over the matter.
In an affidavit filed with the courts, Alston accuses the MD of covering up the pollution on her property, for not following proper testing protocol and not cleaning up the property.
The allegations have not yet been proven in court and MD manager Harry Riva-Cambrin and MD Mayor Larry Spilak declined requests for an interview on the matter.
Alston’s contempt of court application was adjourned last week to be heard at a future hearing, with the date to be determined.
Ultimately, Alston said she wants the MD to have to clean up the property.
“In 2009, Alberta Environment told the MD of Foothills that it was their problem at development and their responsibility to fix and they refused to do it,” she said. “They’ve had our expert reports of water tests to 2014, all of our expert reports and they’ve refused to fix anything.”