City continues massive cleanup

Police are standing watch while heavy equipment hauls load after load of junk including rusted-out vehicles, used building materials and old appliances away from a Red Deer home and adjoining city lot today.

A City of Red Deer Public Works crew removes building materials and other debris from city-owned property homeowner Dell Price appropriated for storage.

A City of Red Deer Public Works crew removes building materials and other debris from city-owned property homeowner Dell Price appropriated for storage.

Police and heavy equipment were to return early today for what some city officials believe to be the largest yard cleanup in Red Deer’s history.

City crews and contractors — aided by tow trucks and police — started work on Wednesday morning at 5328 – 44th Ave., one of two properties owner Dell Price has been asked to clean up. A date has yet to be set for the city cleanup of the second property located at 3710 – 44th St.

Concern was first raised at the 44th-Avenue site by emergency services officials. They said the piles of building material and collections of old vehicles, appliances and other goods would hamper fire-medics attending a fire or medical emergency, said Russ Pye, enforcement and building supervisor for the inspections and licensing department.

Besides filling Price’s own yard, the stockpiles, sheds and fencing had covered most of a piece of city-owned land immediately south of the property.

Most of a stand of trees had been removed to make way for the vehicles and various stacks of materials, including a pile of loose gravel.

By the time they shut down for the day on Wednesday, only the city side of the site was finished, with plenty of work left to do in Price’s yard, said Pye.

Compliance officer Les Kolibaba, also with the inspections and licensing department, could only shake his head as he watched a skid steer operator push the gravel pile aside so a tow truck could drag out a rusty one-ton pickup truck that had a seized rear wheel.

“There was a nice little stand of trees here. From what I understand, it was quite pretty, at least from the pictures,” said Kolibaba.

Price will be made to pay the entire cost of the cleanup, including tow trucks, bylaw officers, environmental services staff, RCMP and work crews brought to the site, said Pye.

Price was not present during the cleanup, and has not responded to phone calls.

It’s too early to estimate how many thousands of dollars the final tally will reach, with the cleanup expected to continue on Thursday and perhaps longer, he said. Once the total is tallied, it will be added to the property’s tax bill.

Vehicles removed from the site, including a trailer built for hauling bottled pop, go to Key Towing and Storage for salvage.

Everything else goes to the city landfill, where goods that appear salvageable will be held for a period of time in case Price wants them back.

Price can retrieve his goods from the landfill for the cost of a tipping fee, while he would have to deal with Key to get any of the vehicles back, said Pye.

“It’s not his stuff that we’re interested in. He’s welcome to have it back.”

The more pressing issue was getting the property back in order, he said.

“It’s been a long process. It’s finally coming to an end — not the way we had hoped.”

Besides creating a fire hazard, the stockpiles contravene a number of city bylaws, including community standards, land use and environmental control, said compliance officer Fernando Paganelli, who is creating a video record of the cleanup.