Beaver Creek lodge owners protest shut down order

A Beaver Creek couple has been picketing in front of the legislative assembly building for the right to re-open its business along the Alaska Highway.

A Beaver Creek couple has been picketing in front of the legislative assembly building for the right to re-open its business along the Alaska Highway.

Olivier and Mylene LeDiuzet, who have run the Pine Valley Bakery and Lodge since 2010, were shut down last year when Environmental Health Services determined that the well on their property was too shallow and at risk of being contaminated by a nearby failing septic system, which is about 40 metres away.

As such, they would have to install a new sewage disposal system – and a costly UV filter – before the Department of Health and Social Services could consider granting it another three-year permit to operate.

“We’re not disputing the fact that we need a new filter,” said Olivier, “the problem is we have never received a written guarantee that if we install it, we’ll get our permit.”

“It’s a very expensive filter, worth several thousand dollars. If we need it so badly, why didn’t they tell us in 2010?”

In a letter to the couple in June 2014, Environmental Health Services manager Benton Foster wrote that the initial permit was issued based on information available to the regulatory body at the time.

“Further assessments of your facility and infrastructure have substantiated a risk that must be mitigated prior to Environmental Health Services issuing a permit for you to serve the public,” he wrote.

This week the department confirmed that the couple’s sewage disposal system, which dates back to 1966, “does not meet current design specifications,” according to spokesperson Pat Living.

Living would not say whether the couple would receive its permit if they installed the equipment.

The couple, originally from France, has lived in the territory for 12 years and have been Canadian citizens for eight years.

They contend that a health inspection report from May 2014 indicates no issue with the property’s septic system.

At the bottom of the report, the officer writes, “permission to operate is now dependent on water potability.”

The couple submitted a sample of water for analysis in March, which came back satisfactory.

“We’ve tested the water every month that we’re open, since 2010,” Olivier said.

“And every time, it comes back negative. If there was something wrong they should have mentioned it on the report.

“I can’t accept that they refuse to give us a permit because there’s a potential risk of contamination. We’re tired and frustrated, we’ve been fighting for 10 months now.”

Pleas for help to Kluane MLA Wade Istchenko and former Health Minister Doug Graham fell on deaf ears, they say.

The couple said they met with two lawyers last summer, and both of them agreed a permit should have been issued last year, Olivier said.

They met with department officials on April 1 but have made no headway, he added.

Closing for the entire 2014 season, which lasts from May to September, has taken a significant financial and emotional toll on the couple, they say.

NDP MLA Kate White said the biggest concern is the couple has never received a written guarantee it would obtain a permit upon installation of the filter.

“The other challenge is that when a Yukon citizen is trying to navigate a process and they contact department officials, they expect to hear back,” she said.

“Sometimes those hardworking people lose track of who they’re supposed to call back. When that happens they don’t realize the toll on the person who is waiting.

“We have people who all they want to do is work and they can’t.”

After sleeping in their van this week, the couple has since returned to Beaver Creek, unsure of how to proceed.

“We just want to work, but they’re not letting us,” Mylene said.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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