What would happen if council . . .?

It was May 16, 2001 when the High Prairie Esso gas station was demolished. Since then, it has been a hot topic of discussion at the coffee shops, not to mention an eyesore and a black mark on our community.

High Prairie town council has tried to motivate Esso into doing something with the lot, which we all know is contaminated. Every effort has failed.

Numerous councils and the town’s former economic development officer have met repeatedly with Esso officials. They have even spent taxpayer’s money to travel to Calgary to discuss the matter. I wonder if they spent money on Esso fuel to get there. Wouldn’t that be ironic! Paying the hand that bites us in the ass!

There is no great sin in continuing to attempt to convince Esso to do something about the site. One has to really ask, however, after 18 years just how serious is Esso about doing something. One could not be blamed for thinking each time High Prairie reps meet with Esso, the snickers and giggles can be heard from their offices the minute our backs are turned.

High Prairie is not alone in this dispute with Esso. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of other sites in Alberta, that Esso has been only to happy to turn their backs on.

You think Esso gives a rat’s ass how an empty, unsightly lot looks in High Prairie while sipping a mocha from their Calgary ivory tower? Eighteen years proves just what wonderful people they are, and how committed they are to good old our town.

So what is one to do? Implementing a special tax is a dangerous road to travel. It also appears a little bad press doesn’t motivate Esso so that tells you how much the care.

But what if…

What if town council decided to take soil sample[s] across the street? What if the soil underneath the town property was contaminated? What if that contamination could be proven to have spread from Esso? It wouldn’t be hard, given that Esso contamination is far from unique.

And what if the owners of the Northern Lites and Circle K convenience store consented to samples? And the owner of the building formerly owned by Edith Guild?

And maybe even the landowners of the houses just to the west?

Just suppose all these sites were contaminated from Esso’s neglect? Who would be responsible for the cleanup?

Let’s seriously get into the game. Esso has played it for 18 years and won every time.

Do you not think it would get Esso’s attention if council was to let them know such samples were being taken?

Should council trust anyone who tells them the contamination has not spread from the Esso site?

We have asked for the reports before but were told we are not privy to them – it was a private matter.

I have no idea what the cost would be to take samples and have them analyzed. Given what we have spent so far, I would be willing to bet the farm is isn’t that much.

At the very least, perhaps council could get some quotes on what it would cost before making a decision. It would be the prudent thing to do.

And being the good guys and gals we are, if such a motion is passed, sent it along to Esso.

Let’s see if we can make Esso squirm a bit!

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