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Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador.Jim Clarke/The Canadian Press

A Newfoundland homeowner plagued by years of sewage contamination is hoping town council in Paradise, N.L., will swiftly approve a plan to relocate his family.

Jim Clarke says he and family members were sprayed in the face with sewage that also coated much of their lawn when there was a dramatic back surge during municipal work last Wednesday.

Clarke’s property is located a few metres from a sewage lift station that has been malfunctioning since mid-August, according to the Town of Paradise.

A video shows a tall stream bursting from the work area – and Clarke says they were caught in the metres-high spray shortly after.

“It actually sprayed into our faces,” Clarke recalled in a phone interview Tuesday. “We had to get (inside) and take turns jumping in the shower.”

Last week’s extreme event follows several incidents since 2006, when sewage spilled onto the Clarkes’ basement floor from a toilet.

The family wants to move, but unpredictable, recurring damage makes their home a near-impossible sell. Clarke says he’s asked the town to buy the property in the past, but the town proposed other solutions to stop the seepage into the basement.

Clarke said the escalating, messy situation has been emotionally taxing on his family. The raw sewage smell has made them reluctant to leave the house or let their pets outdoors. The series of smelly, unsanitary incidents have been the source of anxiety and depression.

“It’s just been really hard,” he said.

Clarke was informed Tuesday that the proposal to cover a rental would be discussed in a closed-door meeting after a Tuesday night council meeting.

Dan Bobbett, mayor of Paradise, confirmed that the Clarkes’ situation would be discussed in a “privileged meeting” with council Tuesday. Councillors would discuss short-term and long-term possibilities, including renting a property for the residents or buying the home from them, with a decision to be approved at a public meeting.

Public meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, but Bobbett said an email poll of councillors can speed up time-sensitive decisions that will be ratified at a later date.

“It is obviously of an urgent nature. We consider it urgent,” Bobbett said. “We’ve had an open channel with the resident, chatting with him on a regular basis. We’re just moving through the process.”

Clarke lives in the home with his wife and their 30-year-old son. The family has been looking at rentals themselves, but the search has been stressful as many landlords are reluctant to take pets, and the Clarkes have two dogs and a cat.

The volume at the sewage lift system is the largest in town, so pumper trucks and holding tanks have been on-site to keep residents’ toilets working. The unexpected issues with pumps and pipes has been costing the town about $50,000 per day at last estimate, with much of that cost attributed to the trucks.

Clarke said he’s hopeful the relocation process moves along quickly, and ideally, he’d like the town to buy his family’s home to end the sewage-related stress.

“I’m just hoping and praying that they’re going to decide finally to buy us out after all these years (so we can) have a normal life, in a normal house where we don’t have any of these worries, and we can finally relax and enjoy life as we should,” he said.

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