A man who lives beside the site of a local business on trial for allegations of an illegal water diversion said he was worried about the potential for damage to his own property.
Gary Bilecki was among the Crown witnesses called on Tuesday to testify in the trial of Harry Veenstra and his business, Auto Body Services Red Deer Ltd.
Veenstra and his business are on trial before Judge Gordon Yake in Red Deer provincial court, facing a variety of charges under Alberta provincial statutes. Special prosecutor Peter Roginski alleges that Veenstra knowingly allowed excess water to be pumped from his property in July of 2010, flooding a neighbouring field and causing a landslide that partially covered a crop at a lower level on the same parcel of land.
Veenstra’s business is located north of Red Deer, between the Blindman industrial park and the Red Deer River.
Bilecki testified that he had made a series of photographs of the site and eventually called Alberta Environment in Red Deer to report that he had seen water being pumped off the site and into the ditch on opposite side of the road.
He said he accompanied an Alberta Environment representative on a tour of the area, including walking northward where they could see a “trickle” of water heading downhill, toward the Red Deer River.
He said the bulk of the water, however, had gone into a hayfield across the road, immediately east of the site and that he noticed the landslide on the day of the tour, but not until after the Alberta Environment investigator had gone.
Under cross examination by defence counsel Sean Moring of Edmonton, Bilecki said he could not explain why he mentioned only the smaller trickle in his statement, without raising the issue of the larger flow being pumped across the road.
“I thought it was obvious,” he told Moring.
Bilecki said his home is immediately north of the Auto Body Services site, separated by a berm.
He said water had pooled in natural areas during heaving rainfall in past years, but the pooling he observed in the summer of 2010 was not natural.