The increased frustration of the homeowners on Hickory Avenue, wanting a solution to an extreme dust problem that seriously impacts the use of their backyards, is evident in recent emails from them to the Town, asking for immediate action.
It doesn’t sound like they will be offered a solution any time soon, at least not from the Town.
After a presentation to the planning committee Monday, July 6, and a request in emails following the presentation for some answers, residents of the Courtland Valley Subdivision in St. Davids were hoping to hear a solution at the July 20 council meeting.
Instead, interim CAO Sheldon Randall, when questioned by Coun. Clare Cameron during the reconvened council meeting this week, said it would take some time to go through decades of documentation, that the report could be available by the August council meeting, and that councillors might have to go in camera to discuss it.
The residents have dredged up documents indicating there has been a problem since 2006, one that goes back to the original subdivision agreement. They are looking for a resolution to the extreme dust kicked up by traffic from a private laneway behind 18 homes that are affected by it, especially on the dry, hot days of summer.
At the July 6 meeting, Hickory Avenue resident Bill Krahn made a presentation to the planning committee during a virtual meeting, asking for help.
The houses border Dyck Lane, a gravel road which is privately owned and provides access to three homes.
Every time a vehicle uses the lane, a large cloud of dust is created for those homeowners, says Krahn, who was asking the Town to take responsibility and remedy the situation.
This is the third council residents have approached for help. The dust affects their health and their quality of life, says Krahn, because of a situation the Town created.
Residents subjected to excessive dust say they can’t enjoy their backyard or an outdoor meal, and patio tables, chairs and even plants have to be washed down daily.
There have been presentations to council going back to 2015, petitions signed by the residents, and correspondence repeating their quest for the Town to take responsibility for the situation.
One of the temporary solutions requested in previous years, and again in an email from Krahn when there was no resolution offered at the July 6 meeting, was for spraying the laneway with calcium chloride to keep the dust down.
Also following that meeting, the owners of the laneway appealed to the Town to end the conflict once and for all.
After listening to Krahn’s presentation, says Dyck Lane part-owners Laurie and Michael Halowski in an email to the Town, “we think it might be helpful to hear from the owners of (our) portion of said laneway.
“These concerns have been going on way too long and we know everyone, especially the affected property owners backing onto Dyck Lane, as well as our entire family, are extremely tired of it.”
The Halowskis say the developer should have been held accountable for laneway access and its subsequent maintenance. However, the Town allowed all of the building to take place without bylaws being adhered to or enforced, and by not having the roadway properly prepared or maintained, the email says.
The Halowskis say their parents sold part of their property to the developer of the subdivision, and since then, there have ongoing problems with regard to fencing, drainage and trespassing, with no support from the Town.
The owners of the laneway also say they have offered to work with the Town, and have “on numerous occasions stated that we would allow the Town on the property to suppress the dust.”
The email says they understand “the majority of all this took place a long time ago, and many councils ago, but we are hoping for a solution that will benefit everyone.”
Krahn, while thanking town council and staff for the offer of a report on the long-standing issue, says the delay is “unacceptable. We have waited long enough to get this done.”
He has once again sent copies of several documents to town staff, hoping to help them move judiciously on their report along with some questions staff could answer when they present their report to council.
“It seems some important factors may have been neglected or accidentally missed by the planning department during the approval process of the Courtland Valley Subdivision,” he says in his most recent email to the Town, laying out issues from the plan of subdivision, Town bylaws, and provincial planning act legislation.
As to Krahn’s request for spraying after the July 6 meeting, hoping for at least a temporary fix as the hot summer continues, by Thursday, July 23, he had received no answer from the Town. He did, however, discover that on Wednesday, the lane had been sprayed by neighbours Mike and Leah Maves, who own a portion of the gravel road, to help the homeowners on Hickory Avenue. As grateful as he is to his neighbours, “it is a cost the Maves should not be responsible for,” he says, and is at best a temporary solution, until the Town finds a permanent resolution to a problem that began about 15 years ago.