The nearly completed SSMP has been presented on April 16th to Council for comment, which would complete Phase 2 of the EA (Environmental Assessment) process. As part of the SSMP, the recent Assimilative Capacity Study for the WestCreditRiver, arranged by the developer(s), concluded our community of Erin-Hillsburgh could accept a population of 10,000 to 13,500 only if our wastewater could be treated to a tertiary treatment level by building a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP.) The completed SSMP recommends our community consider as an example the cost of $65+ million for a conventional STP collected via traditional gravity sewers to service our future population of 6500 in 2035 (as the OP), excluding any communities developed in the future.
As a result of the SSMP’s conclusion and once approved by Council, the planning departments of Wellington County and Town of Erin will very likely approve the proposal to amend the current Official Plan to the Official Plan Amendment (OPA) thereby more than doubling (144%) the population of the Village of Erin over the next 20 years. There may still be time to write letters to the planners to object the significant growth projections in the OPA.
The SSMP, costing our community some $400,000 and 4 years of our time, in the end failed to deliver on 4 key points relating to wastewater treatment:
SSMP failed to determine the amount of money the Town of Erin has available. Without fiscal viability, the town could create a future fiscal nightmare
SSMP failed to fully comply with the Vision Statement developed by the community. The main message was to stay small and quaint
SSMP failed to substantiate that “failing” septic systems have a direct adverse effect on the quality of the water in our aquifer.
SSMP failed to propose an interim remedial strategy for “failing” individual Septic systems.
Council now needs to make a decision to either DO NOTHING or DO SOMETHING.
Doing nothing will mean putting in place a program to inspect, repair or replace and monitor septic systems for the current community, leaving all developers to build individual STP to service their developments. The $400,000 SSMP investment would be lost, but we would save $65,000,000 (not the definitive technology as Phase 3 is suppose to review different technologies but this appears to be the preferred choice).
Doing something will mean proceeding to Phase 3 of the EA at a cost of $250,000 to $750,000, to evaluate alternate and hopefully far less expensive wastewater collection and treatment technologies. Council is not aware of the alternative technologies, including using multiple, totally-enclosed communal wastewater treatment facilities with a small bore collection system, an alternative which will substantially cut our total investment and operating costs, be a less disruptive installation for the community, and a more compatible solution with respect to our environment. At this point our Town manager Mr. Miele’s sole recommendation presented at the Council meeting of April 16 calls for one central STP serving the community by gravity fed sewers, as the likely conclusion for Phase 3 and therefore now asks for Terms of Reference be prepared in light of a Request for Proposal necessary to start Phase 3. TheCEC does not accept the option being proposed by the SSMP.
Concerned Erin Citizens Vision and Mission:
The CEC is absolutely against building one $65 million centralized, gravity fed STP. If the town proceeds in this manner, the facility should not be located within 1.5 kilometer from the closest home in any existing development.
The CEC urges Council to take the DO NOTHING option. Please remember that this approach is to ensure that septic issues are addressed in an inspect, repair, replace & monitor program to ensure the environment is not compromised.
Alternatively, if Council decides to proceed, the CEC respectively requests a delay in proceeding to Phase 3 of the EA until all possible treatment alternatives have been fully explored.
The CEC is against submitting an EA with any developer being the co-proponent as being a perceived conflict of interest. The Town of Erin must complete its own EA to avoid any prejudicial result.
Furthermore, the CEC is not in favour in approving the Official Plan Amendment (OPA), the current Official Plan (OP) meets our target 20 year growth of ~50% for the Village of Erin. Moderate growth is what would keep the fabric of this community intact and prevent it from becoming another suburban sprawl.
The CEC believes that new development should be serviced by a communal, on-site system. There must be no negative financial impact on existing residents.
If there are septage issues in Town such as Main Street or the businesses at the north end of town, septic technologies or communal systems should be assessed and considered specifically for their needs. We need a vibrant Main Street and successful businesses to preserve town’s value and are overall critical to the success of this town.
Homes with critical septic issues must be addressed by the inspect, replace, repair and monitor program. It would be much less costly to the homeowner as well as the rest of town taxpayers to address individual issues and replacing the septic tanks.
The CEC believes that a fiscal impact statement should be prepared before we proceed to Phase 3 to determine the current and future impact of development and building a sewage system on taxpayers. This must include projections of infrastructure and town services required. When we know how much money Erin can invest in sewage and what all the impact on taxpayers would be, only then should we proceed with a solution. This must include all capital costs and ongoing expenses like property taxes, water etc.
The CEC believes in democracy with government representing the majorities wishes. This can only occur through transparency, open communication, education and trust.