TISDALE — The construction of the new Beeland Co-op location in Tisdale put David and Kay Snider in a hole, as they found a massive ditch at the end of their property line.
The construction on the ditch began on June 20.
“So I went over there and talked to the drag-hole operator and I said I was worried and concerned about it and, ‘you have every reason to be concerned about it,’” Kay Snider said.
The couple, quite mad about this large dug-out that would become the new ditch, wanted it changed. So they wrote a letter to the Co-op.
The Sniders were informed it was completely legal to build a giant dtich at the property line, as the property belongs to the Co-op. There was nothing they could do.
One concern the couple has is soil erosion.
According to Todd Svenson, the Co-op’s general manager, that’s why geo-tech cloth will be installed along the ditch, as well as rocks.
“I don’t think there’s any chance with the fabric and the rock,” Svenson said.
While Svenson doesn’t have the exact numbers, he believes the bottom of the ditch to the property line is about 15 to 20 feet.
“If there’s erosion we’ll have a pretty good indication before it gets to the property line because they say that there’s a buffer zone of 15 feet there, so if it’s eroding into the other side obviously there’s a problem and we have to fix it, but I just can’t see that will ever be a problem.”
Another of the couple’s concerns is safety.
Currently there is a temporary fence to keep people out, but that doesn’t reach the tree line where there are spaces someone can quite easily walk through without having to avoid branches.
“You can walk through the trees just about anywhere and fall into the ditch,” Kay Snider said. “When it rains you could fall in, easily.”
Svenson said there will be a permanent fence installed, and the permanent fence will cover the tree line so there will not be gaps.
A third concern the couple has is the property value decreasing.
Svenson suggests that concern is unnecessary.
“I have taken the time to speak with [local real estate agent] Carson Penner about the property value and in his comments to me he stated that your property is worth more now with a new Food Store beside it than it was with a vacant mall,” wrote Svenson in a letter to the couple on July 18.
This is different from what the couple claimed Penner said, as they spoke directly to him and was told it would decrease their property value.
Penner himself said they’re both wrong.
“That’s not what I said,” Penner said.
According to Penner, he told Svenson that, “anybody would be happy to live in walking distance of a grocery store.”
Penner said he made no comment on property value to either Svenson, or to the couple.
To the Sniders he said, “I wouldn’t want this ditch next to my house,” then he also said, “but I believe the Co-op will clean it up and make it look nice when the construction ends.”
It is also worth noting property assessment is not Penner’s role as a real estate agent. That task would belong to the Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency.
A final concern is environmental impact.
As of Aug. 17 there was an oil-like substance in the ditch. When paper was put in the substance and lit on fire, some of the pieces burned normally, while others burned with visible flames. While the water itself never caught fire, the paper had flames licking up, and the air smelled of oil.
On Aug. 20, the Co-op had sent trucks to clean up the oil in the ditch. It was determined it got there during the paving process.
“We talked with the installers of the pavement and he provided us with the [material safety data sheet] on it and it’s deemed a non-hazardous material,” Svenson said. “There’s an oil mixture in it but its deemed non-hazardous.”
Why the ditch?
Svenson said it’s a risk of flooding to not have it.
“I think it’s pretty well common knowledge that the mall property has never drained properly, so part of buying the property, when we did buy it, is we had to fix the drainage,” Svenson said.
Flooding is a big issue in the area. The Sniders used to live in a property a few houses down that had flooded. The previous owners before them also had that property flood.
“So this will allow the property to drain properly,” Svenson said. “For years it was backed up on the property and there has been nothing but problems, and that’s probably part of the reason for some of the failure of the structure at the old mall was the water problems on that property.”
The finished product will be as deep as the current hole is, but with rocks in it and lined with geo-tech cloth. It will also have a permanent fence.
“It will look quite nice,” Svenson said. “Things change, I realize people are scared of change but I don’t know of anything else we can do different for them.”
Why not cover it?
“This was designed for us,” Svenson said. “Probably the biggest thing there is cost. We done it on the front portion of the property where the parking lot is for the food store, this site used to be all surface drainage.”
As for the back half, it will be gravel and not paved.