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Project to fix Canmore wastewater odours proposed for 2023

“Because it is a quality of life issue for some of our residents, it’s important we address it sooner than later and at least have answers for them,”
Canmore Civic Centre in winter 2
The Canmore Civic Centre. RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – A project at the sewage treatment plant that aims to curtail foul smells experienced in the community this past summer looks set to be moved up a year.

Canmore’s finance committee unanimously approved a motion at its Nov. 24 meeting to move up an odour control project to have the design phase take place in 2023 and potential construction in 2024.

Mayor Sean Krausert brought forward the motion after hearing from numerous residents this past summer about the sewage smells wafting through parts of the community.

“Because it is a quality of life issue for some of our residents, it’s important we address it sooner than later and at least have answers for them,” he said at the Nov. 17 finance committee meeting, also noting it’s a livability concern for residents.

The motion received quick support from the committee, which passed it along for council’s final consideration in the overall budget when voted on later this year.

While there are often smells emanating from sewage treatment plants, this past summer had overpowering odours making their way through the community.

Coun. Wade Graham voiced support after passing by the wastewater treatment plant numerous times this summer when raft guiding and said it was “almost unbearable and making guests gag as we went by.”

“I know we’re getting a lot of feedback from the community and South Canmore and further afar. I look forward to doing what we can to remediate that problem,” he said.

The project scope in the budget package has $200,000 earmarked for investigating ways to “contain and control odours” at Canmore’s wastewater treatment plant. The second phase would have mitigation efforts installed.

A placeholder for construction was set at $2 million, but the price tag is tentative and dependent on the findings of the design stage.

The funding for the project would come from the wastewater utility reserve and any operating impacts would be determined once the design work is completed.

Whitney Smithers, the Town’s general manager of municipal infrastructure, told the committee the wastewater treatment plant system in use is “fairly unique” to other similar facilities, so the design project would bring back potential ways to fix the growing smell issue.

She said the design project will look to find a solution, bring back a price tag and a timeline for implementation.

The budget request scope has three main sources of odour being clarifiers (the source), BAF cells (the process of flowing to holding tanks) and digestors/holding tanks, which when the weather is hot and windy, it can push the odour into South Canmore and the Prospect area.

Town officials say public complaints are growing and as weather patterns continue to change, the region has been experiencing more hot weather and easterly winds moving odours into South Canmore and Prospect area.

The committee heard the project had been on the back burner for the past 10 to 15 years. However, as the community grows, increased pressure is being put on the treatment facility.

“It’s an emerging issue, definitely related to climate change, and this is us being responsive to that,” Coun. Tanya Foubert said.

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