“Just shaking the tree again”

Sparwood Mayor concerned over coal tracked into town by trucks from mines

It’s an issue that Sparwood has been dealing with for over 20 years.

Black, mucky lumps falling off of trucks in town, drying out and being tracked into homes and businesses.

Sparwood Mayor Cal McDougall is reminding truck drivers coming from the mines to wash off their trucks, so they aren’t tracking coal around town.

“We’re just kind of shaking the tree again and seeing what comes out,” said the mayor.

After McDougall brought forward the issue at the last council session, the town released a notice asking residents to come forward if they see any problem vehicles. The notice says that the coal deposits affect public works maintenance around town, and when it dries it becomes airborne.

The town is concerned about the environmental implications of the airborne dust becoming runoff into creeks and rivers as well, affecting aquatic life.

“We’ve had a bylaw to help alleviate this problem for a long time,” said McDougall. “We just haven’t been pursuing it strongly.”

He says that the town has received a number of dust complaints over the summer, and part of that issue is with dust tracked in from the mines.

He says the town is now readdressing the bylaw against tracking coal into town both in residential and commercial areas.

He says that conversations about the issue are ongoing with Teck, who understands the concerns and has one wash station for trucks leaving their site.

“They hand out notices too to their employees,” he said. The mayor says that the particles are large enough not to pose health risks, but are a nuisance nonetheless. Fines for tracking coal dirt into town range from $100 to $500 per violation, which can fall under the Litter Control bylaw, the Traffic, Parking and Highways Resolution bylaw or the Unsightly Premises bylaw.

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