Province may support berm builders

A Westward Ho couple who have taken flood control into their own hands may get some support from Alberta Environment.

A Westward Ho couple who have taken flood control into their own hands may get some support from Alberta Environment.

Last November, department officials warned Bryce and MarieAnne Schacher that they had broken provincial environment laws by building a berm on the bank of the Little Red Deer River to protect their home and those of their neighbours.

The Schacher home is nearest to the west bank of the river in the Hamlet of Westward Ho, located 13 kilometres east of Sundre.

Provincial officials issued an order demanding that the Schachers hire an engineer to assess the berm and ensure that it is not causing an adverse impact to the environment, public safety or property.

The Schachers were given until Aug. 31 to either tear the berm down or complete the assessment.

Either option is more than the Schachers can afford, Bryce Schacher told the Advocate on Tuesday.

He said he would risk going to jail if he cannot make the deadline.

On Wednesday morning, just days after the berm was credited with stopping the river from flooding the 16 homes in the hamlet, Alberta Environment, including Assistant Deputy Minister Rick Brown of Edmonton along with acting regional compliance manager Darren Bourget and Environmental Protection Officer Mark Willms of Calgary visited the Schachers and had a look at the berm they had built.

Brown offered some hope that the province will perform the engineering study itself, rather than asking the Schachers to hire an engineer, MarieAnne said after the three men left her home on Wednesday. Her husband had said earlier that it would them cost about $190,000 to hire an engineer on their own.

He also advised that officials from Mountain View County will need to be involved, she said.

Reeve Paddy Munro said earlier that while he does not view the berm at Westward Ho as a county issue, it is on the table for upcoming discussions with Environment Minister Rob Renner.

Trevor Gemmell, a public affairs officer for Alberta Environment, said no decisions regarding the berm have been made so far. The group who met with the Schachers on Wednesday are making recommendations for the minister, who is to meet with local authorities in Sundre on Monday.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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