I am writing in regards to the piece in the April 4 issue of the Merritt Herald “What can be done about dust in the wind?” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We have only lived in Merritt for about two years now, but if we had known how filthy this town was, we would never have come to this town. You state that the Merritt Air Quality Management Plan (fancy name) had set out 22 concrete, real life recommendations to help reduce the harmful emissions that are released into Merritt’s air.
I was also shocked to read in your paper six months or so ago that the dust and dirt problem was not as bad as it was the previous year. Hogwash. I have to hose down my deck and patio furniture on a daily basis. We can’t sit out on our deck with a glass of wine because after half an hour you can see the dirt and sawdust floating in your glass. Dinner out on the deck anyone?
I met with our mayor last year to complain about this problem and to make a few suggestions but nothing was done. In my opinion, there is only one thing that the people living in this city can do. Vote. Vote for the people who will run for office, who promise that the first thing that they will do is stop these mills from choking us with the pollution that they are spewing out on a daily basis. Will these mills have to spend some money to clean up their acts? Of course they will, but the way that they are operating now shows a total disregard for the people living in this town.
Here are a few of the ideas that I have. The mills should be made to either lay down asphalt or put down some material to keep the dust down. If the mills are going to store sawdust in their yards, then it must be stored in an enclosure of some type. Any trucks must not exceed five km/h while in the log mill/yard. There should be a reduced speed limit for any log/chip trucks while in our city. Saving the best for last, I think that the mills should have to build and pay for a truck wash. Every single log truck should have to go through this truck wash before they come into our town. Is it fair that the property owners in this town have to pay to clean up the dirt that the log trucks bring into this town? Is it fair that our taxpayers have to pay to clean the streets and the sidewalks of wood chips because the mills or drivers can’t be bothered to clean off these trucks before they come onto our streets?
When I spoke to our mayor, I asked her why the chip trucks were not blowing off the chips that are on the truck frame and wheels, etc. Her reply was that the Workers’ Compensation Board doesn’t allow workers to use high pressure air hoses anymore. OK, then use a pressure washer. Our streets and sidewalks have wood chips all over them and a solution can’t be found.
I think that someone, perhaps people who agree with what I have said, would be interested in running for office and could start the ball rolling and get this problem fixed.