April 24, 2013

Citizen group petition opposes major growth

As published in The Erin Advocate

Members of the Concerned Erin Citizens (CEC) group are knocking on doors in Erin village, seeking support for a petition that opposes construction of large-scale housing developments and a centralized sewage system.

The mandate of the group is to provide information and "to ensure that current residents are not negatively impacted by growth." They have launched a website, concernederincitizens.wordpress.com, providing articles on growth issues and an opportunity to sign a petition on-line. They also have a Facebook page.

The group came together after Solmar Developments purchased land on the Tenth Line at Wellington Road 52, for a possible sewage treatment plant to service their proposed 1,240 home development north of Dundas Street.

They are also responding to the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP) draft report, which last week recommended a traditional sewer system to eventually serve all existing and future homes in Hillsburgh and Erin village. Sewers are part of a strategy to deal with failing septic systems and encourage commercial growth.

"We cannot proceed with this – we are already overtaxed," said spokesperson Matt Sammut. "You can't stick it to the people. We have voted in politicians who have to respect our wishes. If we have gone down a wrong road, maybe we need to turn around."

The CEC had primary support from the three neighbourhoods closest to the potential sewage plant: Pine Ridge Road, Waterford Drive and McCullogh Drive / Aspen Court. They have 408 signatures on a petition specifically opposed to the plant in that location.

A second petition now circulating is more general, taking in the interests of other urban residents. CEC plans to present their petitions when they appear as a delegation at the next town council meeting on May 7. They also plan to put up signs and conduct an email campaign to make more residents aware of the issues.

They are not entirely opposed to housing growth or sewage treatment, but want them on a smaller scale that will have less impact on the nature of the village. The current petition is made up of three paragraphs, setting out a series of concerns, predictions and preferences:

• Proposed housing plans far exceed current growth projections.

• A traditional sewage system would cost at least $65 million, with heavy costs for existing homeowners.

• The streets would be torn up.

• Traffic will increase.

• Schools may be overcrowded.

• Recreation facilities would be "stressed past their limit".

• "Our town will become a suburban sprawl community."

• "Any major shifts in town direction must benefit existing tax paying residents."

• "We need full disclosure and transparency on how the town will be impacted."

• "Our social and environmental fabric is critical to our community and these issues must be closely assessed."

• "If we do have minor septic tank issues, lets fix them at a minor cost relative to a centralized system."

Additional information is available from several sources. The SSMP report is part of the agenda of the April 16 council meeting and can be downloaded at www.erin.ca. The town site also has an SSMP section called Defining Erin.

The work of the Transition Erin group on wastewater and sustainable development can be accessed at www.transitionerin.ca. And a wide variety of related news reports and columns from The Erin Advocate can be viewed at www.erininsight.blogspot.com.