Would you like some lead with that?

So I, like 75,000 other households in Montreal, recieved letters recently notifying us that our tap water contained levels of lead higher than the acceptable provincial standard. The letters were aimed at pregnant women and parents of children under 6 years of age in particular as this was bolded and printed in large letters.

My first beef, was that the letter was entirely in French. Now, don’t get me wrong. I read, speak, understand, and function in French everyday even though it’s just one of three languages that I have to juggle between. But for other citizens of Montreal, allophones or anglophones, how were they supposed to know what this letter was about? It was addressed to the “occupant” and I nearly discarded it, thinking that it was just another piece of unwanted junk mail that I get by the bac-loads every week. The letter has one line at the bottom saying that an english version is available on request. Montreal being a bilingual city, and this notice being of such gravity, you would think that the administration could send out a bilingual notice.

Beef no.2, if as reported in the media, this problem is not really as serious as it sounds, why send letters to 75,000 households and create the mass hysteria? The city is saying that lead levels under the old provincial standards would have been acceptable but not with the new lowered standards. Yet they do not foresee replacing city pipes completely until 2026 and until then, we should all just drink filtered water. Um…. is this supposed to make me feel reassured in some way? I’m presuming it’s not a great idea to wash my fresh produce with tap water or brush my teeth with it in that case. So you’re telling me that the water quality is sub-par but that I should just live with it as best as I can and keep accumulating low levels of lead in my body until the year 2026. Yeah, right. I feel much better now. What was the purpose of this letter? I just don’t get it.

Beef no. 3, if everyone is now running out and buying filters and bottled water like there’s no tomorrow, what is the city administration doing to compensate people? That adds up to a lot of filters from now until 2026 if I have to replace them every 3 months. I keep hearing about how the city is going to offer a “deal” to homeowners who want to replace their home pipes at the same time that the city replaces the city pipes. But why is this information so vague? How much money are people going to have to put aside to deal with this? I’m not made of money and taxes keep rising every year. Show me the money I say! I’ve heard rumors of a class action law suit against the city being filed…Maybe it’s time to “parcavenue” the city. Again.

3 Comments so far

  1. andre (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

    And now imagine what it would be if you had to put your house on sale. It’s not something that you are obligated to disclose but you have to answer truthfully if asked.

    …and they will.

  2. Mikel (unregistered) on March 12th, 2007 @ 7:14 am

    Welcome to Montreal! The city of one language and it’s hardly English or French! I have been fighting with the city for 3 years over that small line “an english copy is available upon request”. I have requested, formally, and informally all of my documents in English. It took 3 letters, 2 trips to city hall and three years to get my property tax bill in English, i can’t imagine an important notice like lead poisoning being much different. Besides we have 20 years to go?!!

  3. Joe Manganiello (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

    I also received this letter and I would like to know if someone is starting a class action suit, if so I want in.

    As for the city offering a deal, well here it is. If you get someone to do it for you it can cost between $3000-$5000, if the city does it it will be 1/2 the price. WOW they just keep screwing us over and over.

    I say if the city put the pipes, which they claim that they only installed them in the street and the ones going into the houses was contracted then that is why we have to pay.

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