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Gambo residents want raw sewage problem fixed

Protesters are shown in front of the Gambo Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 3.
Protesters are shown in front of the Gambo Town Hall on Thursday, Oct. 3. - Contributed

There is a foul smell wafting through the Town of Gambo. 

It's the result of raw sewage being dumped into Freshwater Bay after a malfunction at the town’s wastewater treatment plant in Gambo South. The plant was built in 1984 and underwent major repairs in 2010. 

The stench has been a problem for the last couple of years but, according to resident Tammy Elliot, it became more significant late this summer. 

Elliot was in her kitchen making signs for a planned protest when she told about an elderly gentleman at a nearby senior’s complex who thought the strong odour was coming from the bathroom in his room.

She and a group of concerned residents planned a demonstration for Thursday afternoon to call for increased action from the provincial government to fix the problem. 

She likened it to stepping into a wall of toxins any time she left her home and was greeted by the smell. 

“I’ve never witnessed anything like this,” said Elliot. “You can’t open your windows in the summer. 

“The whole community can smell it.” 

Earlier this week, the town announced it had been granted $30,000 in emergency funding from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment to assist with the repair. The complete fix is expected to cost $55,000. 

The town also received some $175,000 to help with the cost of designing a new wastewater system. 

Residents like Elliot feel emergency funding is a stopgap and they want the provincial government to step in to correct the problem as soon as possible. 

With the upcoming federal election, she also doesn't want the problem to become an empty campaign promise.

Gambo has a thriving recreational tourism industry and Elliot said she’s had visitors to the town this summer ask her what the terrible smell is.

“We don’t want a band-aid solution, we want a real solution,” she said. “We want it fixed.

“What about the health of this community?” 

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