Out of sight and mind

Cottagers and commuters will be quite familiar with the photos we published this week of a farm, south of Teviotdale on County Road 7. The eerie spectacle of an abandoned farm house and buildings has been a blight on the otherwise pleasant surroundings for over a decade now.

In the end, a tale that might not have been believed at the time has unfolded into an intriguing case of an owner’s sixth sense letting him know something was tragically wrong with the property. After 14 years, depending now on the province’s choice to exercise a right to appeal, justice might finally be served.

Hollywood has made countless movies, few as well known as the  Erin Brockovich movie, where Julia Roberts fights for the rights of town-folk affected by polluted wells. The theme of the show was that corporate interests engaged in denial and the waiting out of victims – so they would not have to compensate affected parties. It is incredulous to note that in the case of the Ben Berendsen farm in Mapleton township, which was apparently contaminated by old asphalt dumped on the property, rested with a level of government intent on not taking responsibility. The question, of course, is why?

Simply put, the ramifications of the court’s decision to compensate the affected landowner would be a tall order if other landowners in the same predicament come forward. While the practice of stripping old roads has lost favour to recycling the material, we believe across the province there is the potential for many improperly buried materials to contaminate their surroundings.

We trust the practice of illegal dumping or “convenient” dumping has ceased. With the coverage of such events we also trust willing hosts contemplating an improper burial will think twice about receiving refuse that needs proper treatment. While we can appreciate people not knowing any better years ago, government agencies have a responsibility to citizens at large to ensure  toxic sites are not created – or expanded.

For the sake of this affected family, we hope those in charge decide against any further appeals – and they will allow the Berendsens to move on from this troubling episode.