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Campground owner fined for drinking water offences

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 07/4/2017 9:00 AM

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The co-owner of a Richer-area campground has received a total of $500 in court fines after pleading guilty to a pair of regulatory offences under the Drinking Water Safety Act.

Raymond and Gisele Turenne, owners of Wild Oaks Campground in the RM of Ste Anne along Provincial Road 302, appeared in Steinbach court last Thursday. Each faced six drinking water-related offences. After Raymond Turenne pleaded guilty with an explanation to two of the charges, Crown attorney Kristee Logan stayed the remainder against the pair.

Turenne admitted he failed to test outgoing treated water for disinfectant residuals as it left the campground’s holding tank. The two failures were found during on-site inspections in July and October 2016, and carried a set penalty of $673 each. They constituted Turenne’s first regulatory offence, Logan said.

The married couple has owned the operated the campground, which services 111 seasonal campsites, since 1999.

Turenne attributed the regulatory lapses to a busy schedule, explaining the couple runs a small family farm in addition to the campground, while he also works full-time as an electrician.

"Some days, life gets very hectic," he said. "The odd test might have gone to the wayside."

Court heard that Turenne’s water test logbook, which must be filled out daily and submitted to authorities each month, was turned in late and incomplete, with only six of 31 entries completed.

The campground had never failed water testing regulations before, Turenne maintained, adding he would never want to harm his clients.

Training for private businesses that oversee a public water supply would be appreciated, Turenne told the judge. In the absence of such training, he said, business owners are left to do the best they can.

Champagne sympathized with the daily burden that drinking water regulations place on "mom and pop operations," and imposed reduced fine amounts. But he called water testing procedures "common-sense," and explained the bureaucracy exists for a good reason.

"When you invite the public to come to your property…and you tell the public that you’re providing them potable water, you have certain obligations," Champagne said. "If you’re going to provide that service, you have to follow the regulations…a lot of thought goes into that type of legislation."

Penalties for the regulatory offences were necessary, the judge said, in part to send a message to other local campground owners.

"Everybody has to get in line with the regulations," remarked Champagne. "This is about every operation in the province."

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