Editorial: Still Waiting for movement on Monkman Commons

Trent Ernst, Editor


It was nearly a year ago that Ron Klein wrote a letter to the paper, describing Monkman Commons as looking like a “Concentration Camp.”

“I wonder if it will ever be finished?” he asked, and, nearly a year on, residents are still wondering the same thing.

One of the big hold ups, we are told, is priority. HD says they’ll come in and work getting their property up to snuff, then any funds left over can go to fixing the disturbances to the District property. The District, quite rightly, says they’ve got their priorities backward: fix what you’ve disturbed on District property, then work on your property; if there is any short fall, well, it is your property and you should be the ones paying for it.

People have been asking why doesn’t the District just step in and fix it, then bill HD for the work.

They are certainly in a position to do so. As part of the process of building in Tumbler Ridge, developers put down a bond that guarantees, if they go out of business, walk away from town, decide that building stuff wasn’t their true calling and run away to Mexico to become a salsa dancer…whatever, the District has the cash on hand to finish everything up. In this case, about $2.2 million.

While this is certainly an option, it is the last possible option the District would want to do.

Why is that? Well, for a couple reasons. What would you think if your neighbour complained about the fact that your lawn wasn’t mowed, then came over and mowed your lawn, and kept your lawnmower in payment for doing it?

You’d be pretty upset. It wouldn’t be considered good neighbourly behavior. Now imagine that you knew your neighbour was going to be living next to you for the next 25 to 30 years, and forever after your neighbour would consider you the jerk who stole his lawnmower?

If the mine goes through, there’s a chance that HD will be working in the area for a long, long time, and these sort of thing can cast a pall over the relationship the town has with the corporation.

More problematic though, if the District assumes responsibility for doing the last few fiddly bits (about $2-million worth of fiddly bits), they might have to assume responsibility for everything.

Right now, it is HD’s responsibility to prove that everything is up to code. They are responsible to prove the wiring is safe, that the sewer pipe is not hooked up to the fresh water system and all the thousands of other requirements that need to be met, not only under the BC Building Code, but under the District’s bylaws.

So HD has to have their experts sign off on the matter, and prove to the District that everything is up to code. If they sign off and everything is not up to code, it’s HD’s responsibility to make sure that it is.

Now, if the District steps in and starts working on the property, HD could (and probably would) say “we did not do that work, we are not responsible for it. Even more to the point, we can no longer guarantee that the work that we did has not in some way been affected by what you’ve done there. So since you’ve taken on the responsibility for the final work, you have to assume responsibility for all the work that went before.” Not only is this an added cost to the process, it is an added hassle, both up front (having to get engineers in there to verify all the work is up to code) and later on (excuse me, but this doesn’t seem to be working properly, taxpayers of Tumbler Ridge, can you fix it?).

And yeah, it sucks that it hasn’t started yet. And yes, each day that passes now means another day farther in the future when this may finally be complete. But it is, as Mayor McPherson points out, short term pain for what, hopefully will be long term gain.