Happy Valley-Goose Bay is built on mounds of sand, tens — if not hundreds — of meters deep, making the installation of municipal infrastructure easy compared to other municipalities in Labrador.
But is it really necessary to have to breathe and ingest sand every time we leave our homes in summer?
I am sure I am not the only resident of Happy Valley-Goose Bay to observe how some properties, whether they are Industrial, Commercial or Residential, have been denuded of vegetation, and left without topsoil for years, creating a sandstorm in our community in summer every time the winds pick up. This practice has to be addressed and brought under control in order to improve the aesthetics of our growing town and to maintain a good quality of life for the residents. Having exposed sand blowing around is a health hazard for people with chronic pulmonary problems, it covers vehicles and gets into our homes, it makes growing a lawn an uphill battle, it thwarts laundry hung on clotheslines, it fills culverts and drainage ditches that can cause flooding, it covers our streets and the erosion is an infrastructure and environmental concern.
Through this letter, I hope to raise the profile of this problem in our town with the anticipation that those property owners who are creating this problem, (and they know who they are) start addressing this issue and replant vegetation cover as soon as possible, cover piles that are temporary excavations, water down or use calcium on large construction areas or place topsoil or ground covers such as gravel or crushed stone in exposed areas. I know that during some construction projects like residential house construction, exposing sand may be unavoidable in the process. Perhaps leaving more existing trees or natural vegetation can be considered.
I would also suggest that our Town Managers lead by example and create a plan for the abatement of soil erosion on all town property, our street shoulders and ditches, and implement the work immediately. The Town also has to take into consideration the wise planning of ATV/Snowmobile trails around town to avoid paralleling residential areas and roads. Dust from these trails is a traffic hazard and adds to the overall erosion and degradation of aesthetics in our town. According to our Town Regulation 2.3 Conditions – All Development section (2): Compatibility of Uses, Buffers and Screening: The Town SHALL ensure as much as possible that new development will not negatively affect existing and proposed land uses by creating a hazard or nuisance such as noise, dust, odour or unsightly appearance. The Town may require a developer to provide appropriate screening and to undertake other measures to minimize negative effects.”
The Town’s Development Regulation 64: Screening and Landscaping provides further direction to development under section (3): “Any development along Corte Real Road, Hamilton River Road, Kelland Drive, the Trans Labrador Highway, and/or other streets identified by the Town, shall provide a landscaped area extending from the front property line to the closest structure or parking area that is at least five meters wide.”
We have to ensure that the Town’s regulations are implemented and enforced!
Most of our residents — and many of our community-minded businesses and government departments — take great care in maintaining their properties and preventing sand erosion and should be complimented for their effort. For example, over the past two summers the Department of Transportation and Works has upgraded Hamilton River Road placing new crushed stone on the shoulders from Spruce Park nearly to MOT hill. In addition, they have hydro seeded the roadside easement and a manicured lawn has now replaced the sand pit that existed for years from the Bargain Shop to Spruce Park. This is a model example of how to control the blowing sand problem and beautify our town at the same time and should be commended. Those that continue to create this problem should be embarrassed and our Town Regulations enforced to ensure that the aesthetics of our town are maintained and improved!
Happy Valley-Goose Bay