CALGARY -- The community of Shepard in Calgary’s southeast is one step closer to having the water and sewer services after city council voted unanimously Tuesday in favour of a plan to bring the services to the community.

Shepard residents have been waiting for city services since they were promised when the hamlet was annexed into the City of Calgary in 2007.

There are just over 50  homes in Shepard, and all  currently rely either on wells for drinking water, or have their water delivered by truck and stored in cisterns.  All the homes use septic tanks for sewage management.

Many residents of the community on the east side of Stoney Trail at 114 Avenue South East are frustrated, saying they’re paying Calgary taxes but aren’t receiving city services.

"It’s like they don’t even care about us and they don’t even care enough to communicate," said Kay Balisky. "We’ve asked and asked many times what the plan is for Shepard, when are we getting our services, and we get very little feedback."

The area includes an industrial park with 88 large businesses including manufacturing and fabrication facilities.  The city has hopes of growing the industrial base in the area but says the lack of infrastructure is holding that back.

“The fact is it’s not likely much development will happen in that area until services come,” says Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating    “It's kind of the chicken and egg thing -  you'll get services when developers come forward, but developers are saying, ‘well until you bring services I can't come forward.”

There are also plans for a large sports tournament park, featuring multiple baseball diamonds, cricket pitches, and soccer fields, which can’t be developed without city water run to the area.

Pet peeve

“I know that this will be hard to make services. But yes it would be nice to have something - something, not nothing. “said 30 year Shepard resident Rico Squizzado. “We don't even (get) garbage pick-up. And that is my pet peeve. We don't have buses, we don't have water. There is no services period.  To fix even the road you have to beg.”

Squizzado points to a huge frost heave in the middle of a road near his home, which arose in 2019, and despite repeated calls to the city remains unrepaired.  Shepard residents have had to  place their own traffic cones on the road to warn motorists of the hazard.

"At this point, they are paying city taxes, they have no services — not even waste or garbage pickup or a number of those things — so I think it’s time we brought them into the rest of the city," said Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating.

Shepard’s location near the outskirts of the city, east of Stoney Trail, makes it logistically difficult and expensive to provide services to the area.  Keating asked city administration to draw up a budget for the work, and expects the city to ask for provincial COVID-19 emergency infrastructure funding to offset the cost.

While speaking in favour of the idea, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi admitted the province may balk depending on the size of the financial ask.

“This ask won't go forward for a little while yet, while some of this work is done   we will give it the attention that it deserves, but  I have no idea if this is  a $5 million, or a $50 million ask, or a $500,000 ask.”  said Nenshi.

“I suspect the government has a lot on their mind," he added, "but you never know unless you ask.”

Several councillors whose  wards border the city limits said they also had communities in similar circumstances.   Council was told by the city administration that the plan to be developed for bringing city services to the Shepard could create a reproducible template to be used in other annexed communities.