May 08, 2013

Residents flush sewer plan and seek referendum

As published in The Erin Advocate

The Shamrock Room was packed Monday night as about 300 Erin residents blasted the Town for considering a plan to build a sewer system, which they fear would harm their quality of life and impose unjustified costs.

Matt Sammut of the Concerned Erin Citizens group presented a petition with 1,475 signatures, calling for moderate growth and protesting the possibility of a traditional sewer system that would tear up roads and require a central treatment plant, potentially near existing homes.

He called for a one year moratorium on any decision on sewers, and said the Town should have a program for inspection, maintenance and repair of existing septic systems.

"How can you consider going against the will of the people who elected you?" he said.

The Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP) Environmental Assessment report is almost complete. The Town needs to decide whether to proceed with further environmental studies on sewer technology, and whether to partner with developers to share study costs.

"Before you spend another $250,000, why don't you put it to a vote and be bound by it?" said resident Rupika Lamprecht.

"I like the idea of a referendum – we can make it binding," said Mayor Lou Maeiron. A referendum could only be held at the next municipal election in the fall of 2014, said CAO Frank Miele.

Former Mayor Rod Finnie argued that a sewer system would be affordable if subsidies from governments and corporations are aggressively pursued, and that failing to grow would "sign the death certificate" for Erin.

Shelley Foord, of the Wastewater Solutions working group of Transition Erin, asked if there would be a conflict of interest in partnering with developers, but received no answer. She asked about the cost of a sewer system for 10,000 urban residents (the current figure is $65 million to serve 6,500 people), but no estimate was available.

"Shouldn't we really be figuring out what we can afford first?" she said.

Former school trustee Pierre Brianceau said council must decide whether to do what's right for developers or for the people of Erin.

"Let the residents take care of their current systems, and let new projects take care of the problems they are creating," he said.

More on Monday's meeting will be published in next week's Advocate. Information is available at:, and The draft SSMP report is in the April 16 council agenda, at