The boil water advisory for half of Spardell Mobile Home Park is set to stay for the time being.
The deadline for owner Rick Pater to fix leaky and insufficient water lines has come and gone, and the park is still not in compliance with Interior Health (IH) orders that were given years ago.
Pater, who is a prominent Sparwood businessman and real estate agent, had been given five years by IH to bring the pipes at the Spardell Mobile Home park up to code, but residents say he failed to do the work, and up to half the park remains on a boil water advisory that has been in place since at least 2015.
The deadline to upgrade the pipes to standard pressure levels was Sept. 30.
An inspector from Interior Health visited the park on Oct. 6 “and determined the operator remains out of compliance with the order to upgrade the water distribution system so it operates at an acceptable pressure,” said a health authority spokesperson.
Pater was fined $1,150, and the health agency has now given him until Nov. 6 to make the upgrades “or further action will be taken.”
The water pipes are unable to hold pressure which, according to IH, means there is a risk of contamination to the water, hence the boil-water notice. The pipes often break, leaving tenants without running water at all.
Pater, who had previously told The Free Press that it was too expensive to fix the piping, said that his engineers had submitted repair plans this week.
Pater pointed a finger at government bureaucracy for causing delays.
“It’s been a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare,” he said, adding that pipe upgrades could completed within the new deadline “depending on how quickly we get approval.”
He also blamed the government for making it difficult to pass along the cost of replacing the pipes, saying he had spent $100,000 already and would need to spend another $50,000-$60,000.
“I would have replaced all the water lines by now if the government hadn’t removed the old guidelines whereby I could pass on the increase on a pro-rated basis over 15 years. But the government took that away, so I am no longer in a position to upgrade or replace the water lines.”
However, residents in the park who have been in contact with The Free Press, said Pater offered excuses, describing instances of being without water for extended periods of time.
One resident, who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution, described Pater as seemingly uncaring.
“I’ve never in my life been treated the way I’ve been treated,” one said. Others have stayed quiet, feeling intimidated.
“We have single parents in the park; we have elderly in the park; we have low-income families in the park. A lot of them are scared to speak up.”
They said they’ve gone without water over half a dozen times for three to five days at a stretch, and all without any communication.
Another resident, who also requested anonymity, said Pater offered no compensation for being without potable water.
“It’s so unbelievably frustrating that this is my home – and I have worked so hard for what I have here – and I have a terrible water supply. I paid decent money. And I am considering relocating due to this issue.
“It just makes me sad that there’s so many others in this park that will not speak up due to fear of being evicted.”
When the question of eviction and fear of speaking out was put to Pater, he said, “Anything I do adheres to the residential tenancy act,” adding that anyone could speak “as long as their concerns are legitimate.”
On the legitimacy of tenants’ concerns about the safety of the water, Pater said it was fine, while admitting the pipes were older.
“I’ve never had a bacterial issue with the water. So is it healthy to drink? I would drink it, absolutely. Can I remove the boil water advisory? Not according to the rules.”
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