County ditches Faust trail project

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County has abandoned the idea of building trails on the site of a former wood treatment plant in Faust. It would have cost about $1 million.

At its June 10 meeting, council defeated a motion to proceed with the ‘toxic trail’ project and to apply for a lease for the property. The vote was 6 – 2 against, with councillors Robert Nygaard and Fern Welch being the dissenting votes.

Turning the site into a park with elevated walking trails had been proposed a year or two ago after Alberta Environment and Parks declared the site no longer hazardous to human health. During the 1960s a company called Alberta Osmose Wood Preservers had operated there. The chemicals used in the preserving process had found their way into the soil, causing considerable local concern.

In spite of government assurances, liability was a consideration for council.
“I’m not willing to put county residents at risk if the county is named in any lawsuit,” said councillor Ken Matthews.

Cost may have been the bigger obstacle. At least three councillors cited objected on that basis.

As previously requested, council had a legal opinion on the situation. The key thing would be adequate signage, it said, informing users why they needed to stay on the trails.

Not mentioned at the meeting was what the county will do with or to the property now that the idea of raised walkways is abandoned.

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