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Spardell Trailer Park residents left without running water for three days

Multiple residents told The Free Press it was an ongoing, seemingly endless problem

Spardell Trailer Park residents have decried a recent dry spell after half the park was without running water for three days last week.

Multiple residents reached out to The Free Press to vent about the issue which is part of ongoing water-related problems in the park.

“(Last Monday) we woke up to no water, and water was not restored until Wednesday afternoon - almost three whole days of no water,” said one resident who wanted to remain anonymous.

The resident claimed that residents were not given any information as to why there was no water, and no alternative arrangements were made. That claim was backed by multiple other residents.

“The landlord never extended any courtesy to the residents that were affected by the water situation.”

Each tenant said they were left to their own devices in finding safe drinking water, and that it wasn’t the first time it had occured.

Tenants of the park spoke of ongoing issues with the water supply, claiming that the water was often shut off as work was done trying to maintain what they described as an old and inadequate system.

Another tenant who also wished to remain anonymous said that water supply was an “ongoing problem we face year after year.”

When queried about the loss of water supply last week, owner and manager of Spardell Trailer Park, Rick Pater, told The Free Press that it was due to a leak that took three days to locate and then repair.

“There’s 15 acres in that area…and to find the leak it was a major thing, so when we found the leak it was just a matter of a few hours and then we fixed it,” said Pater, who added that residents were not informed of progress because there was so much ground to cover.

Half the park is currently under a boil water notice from Interior Health according to documentation taped to the Spardell signage above the park, with residents telling The Free Press that they have been under the advisory for years.

According to the notice, water in units 65-125 must not be used for drinking, cooking or brushing teeth unless it is boiled for at least one minute beforehand.

The Free Press also saw documentation from Interior Health saying that the entire park was put on a boil water notice in February 2015, with parts of the park remaining under the advisory to this day.

Other portions of the park were removed from the advisory in 2018 following upgrades.

Pater was asked about any plans to upgrade the water lines to ensure a reliable and potable water supply, but he said that changes in government regulations meant that it was “no longer economically feasible” as he was not permitted to pass along costs to tenants.

“The cost is quite substantial.”

Instead, Pater said that efforts were being made to equalize pressure through the lines in the park. “I am just trying to get some permits. We are working on the lines, but we’re not going to replace the lines because of the changes in the current government.”

When asked about the boil water advisory as issued by Interior Health, Pater said that the water was indeed potable.

“It is potable water from the point of view that it is town water,” he said.

“Its just because of the makeup of the lines. The lines have been there for 60 years. Its never been an issue as far as health concerns, however yes we are addressing that. I am waiting for permits from Interior Health for that.”

Mayor David Wilkes of the District of Sparwood acknowledged that issues with water in the trailer park were longstanding and that there were multiple directives from the BC Government on the issue, but said that as the park was privately held, “the District of Sparwood has no jurisdiction on any repairs within the trailer park.”

Wilkes said that while town water lines had been extended to the park, Pater was required to do upgrades to existing lines within the park.

“Some of the problems within the trailer park still exist, and as a result various ministries for the Province of BC have been working with the landlord to get compliance.”

Community Paramedic, Kristie Williams backed the tenants claims, telling The Free Press that she had noticed issues with the water supply.

“I advocate strongly that clean drinking water is essential for staying healthy, particularly with heightened infection controls during COVID,” she said.

Williams said that it was her goal as a Community Paramedic to help her patients live independently and safely. “I’d like to see everyone in the Sparwood community have the benefit of safe, potable water.”

The multiple tenants who approached The Free Press expressed frustration with Mr Pater, accusing him of not caring about access to water in the park.

“(He) doesn’t really seem to care … he has said to me in the past ‘what would you like me to do?”

According to documents from Interior Health, Pater is required to upgrade the water lines in the park before September 2020.