The Town of Erin is currently undertaking a study to identify optimal strategies for municipal services, particularly those concerning water supply and sewage treatment within the urban areas of Erin and Hillsburgh. Goals of the SSMP are as follows:
- Ensure growth objectives are met.
- Provide municipal services that are: safe, reliable, sustainable, and cost effective.
The following segments are studied in the SSMP.
Costs to Taxpayers is as Follows as Per Sharon Marshall, Town of Erins Director of Finance
The total Town costs for the SSMP since 2006, including a projection of $118,000 for 2014, is now $542,594. That includes BM Ross, Triton Engineering (Project Manager Dale Murray), hydrogeology by Ray Blackport, economic analysis by Watson Associates and Town expenses for legal advice, advertising and public meetings.
That figure does not include CVC expenditures on the SSMP over the years, estimated last spring at $380,000. So the current estimate of public expenditures on the SSMP (including the 2014 projections, but not including recent work by CVC) is $922,594.
Our monies have been spent without a Strategic Plan for our Town which should be the defining document to determine the need of such a large expenditure.
Link to SSMP Detailed Information:
A key aspect in the Erin SSMP process is to evaluate the current environmental conditions within the Town. The purpose of the environmental assessment is to provide a broad picture of the areas current environmental conditions, so that future plans can be tailored to fit the surrounding area. The segments covered within the SSMP can be found within the West Credit River watershed, which includes the urban communities of Erin Village and Hillsburgh.
What Environmental Aspects Were Studied?
The environmental assessment within the SSMP covers a variety aspects including:
- Land Uses
- Surface water
- Plant & Animal Life
The study investigated the area’s land uses, surface water,
groundwater, and animal and plant life. The study presents a
broad picture of the area’s current environmental conditions.
Main Findings of the Environmental Assessment:
1. Land use – Almost 60% of the studied land area is currently used by humans for agriculture (46%) and urban & rural development (9.5%). The remaining 40% of land includes forests, wetlands, and aquatic. Land currently unused by humans plays a vital role in the ecosystem of Erin. Wetlands are a vital feature within the area as they filter pollution from water, prevent erosion and help re-charge ground water sources. These wetlands, in addition to forested areas also provide protection for groundwater, and allow for important ecosystems of plants and animals to thrive.
The province of Ontario protects significant wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas from development in order to maintain and protect ecosystems and rare/endangered species. Ontarios Ministry of Natural Resources considers ALL FIVE wetlands in Erin that were studied to be provincially significant.
2. Water Quality – Water quality in the region was checked by testing the level of nutrients including phosphorus, nitrates, and other contaminants. Testing showed slightly elevated levels of nitrate and phosphorus in Hillsbugh, likely due to stormwater, runoff and possible septic system issues. Water tests in area of the credit river downstream of Erin Village also showed evidence of impacts from septic systems and urban land usage. Tests conclude that maintaining natural wetland areas along the river system is vital to ensuring that nitrogen removal is continued, and levels remain safe for residents. Tests conclude that the overall quality of water within the studied region can be classified as “good”
3. Groundwater – Current municipal groundwater wells appear to be naturally well protected by layers of clay and bedrock. Water that was tested showed little signs of evidence of impacts from land use activities like road salt applications, and septic systems. There were a small number of ground water areas that are not currently well protected by natural elements, and therefore show more signs of contamination from land use activities. Although these findings are not critical it is important to ensure their protection from contamination going forward.
4. Stream Life – Good water quality is indicated by the presence of strong populations of certain water-dwelling insects, worms, crayfish, and other creatures. Overall, streams in the area studied for the SSMP were found to contain healthy populations of these important species, indicating good water quality in the area.
5. Septic Systems – Currently, septic systems are the primary method of wastewater treatment in the Town of Erin, and can be the potential source of groundwater contamination if they are not properly maintained and developed. As the population of the studied area grows septic systems could become more of a concern, as poorly maintained systems can be a source of contamination for local groundwater sources. The effects of such a contamination would not only have broad effects on health of residents, but could also pose threats to the surrounding environment and eco- systems.
In addition to environmental considerations the SSMP will also provide an overview of many other dynamics of the town including:
1. Community Design, Forum, & Function – What is the identity, purpose and design of the town. How does the current perception of the town fit with the proposed growth proposals. This includes the likes of the business landscape, and social issues.
2. Community Planning – Plans to accommodate growth. This includes the needs of the town, demographics etc.
3. Servicing & Infrastructure – These include current services and infrastructure offered within the town currently, as well as what additional services, buildings etc, will be needed to accomodate future growth plans.
To optimize communication and feed back, a community liaison group was formed with a well rounded group of individuals from the community. The committee has, and will continue to hold a number of workshops to provide residents with a forum to express their ideas and concerns, which can be relayed to the team completing the SSMP. A list of members and more information about the committee can be found at http://www.erin.ca/definingerin/index_files/Page361.htm .
For more information on the SSMP process feel free to contact the towns planning consultant at B.M. Ross, Mr. Matt Pearson at 1-888-524-2641 or by e-mail at email@example.com