September 25, 2013

New money approved for extra SSMP work

As published in The Erin Advocate

Town council has agreed to pay $54,000 to consulting firm BM Ross for additional work to complete the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP), with the mayor urging council to make a decision on the report during its current term of office.

The issue was discussed at council’s previous meeting when Project Manager Dale Murray promised to try to get the project done by next spring.

BM Ross has agreed to do more work at no charge, to meet its original terms of reference, but wants additional funds to cover re-writing parts of the report, re-calculating the assimilative capacity of the river based on new scientific data from Credit Valley Conservation, and participation in a long series of meetings.

There will be other additional costs for the Town, depending on the extent of work by hydrogeologist Ray Blackport regarding storm and ground water, Watson Associates for economic analysis and Triton Engineering. It is not known how long that work will take, but Murray estimated that everything could be wrapped up by next June.

Mayor Maieron said, “If we’re at a point where we’re going to add significant cost to this project, I think council has to make a decision that by doing so, we are going to commit to complete the SSMP in this term of council.”

The SSMP represents only the first two stages of a lengthy Environmental Assessment (EA). The final SSMP report (possibly next spring) will recommend development of a sewer system, but council will have to choose among various options at that time, including the possibility of saying No to sewers.

The mayor was speaking mainly about the SSMP, but also referred to the next phase of the  environmental assessment that would come after the SSMP, studying specific wastewater technologies.

He appeared to suggest that a decision to spend more money now should imply agreement with proceeding to further stages later on. Councillors agreed unanimously to spend the $54,000 (Councillor Wintersinger was absent), but other members said there was no commitment to move beyond the SSMP.

“If at the end of this process we are not going to proceed forward with the environmental assessment or anything else, wouldn’t it be better to stop spending the taxpayers’ money now,” said Maeiron.
 “It’s sort of a line in the sand. If we’re going to commit to that, I’d like to know how much it is and the timelines to completion, and that council is prepared to see it through.”

Councillor John Brennan said, “If you are asking for a commitment to finish this portion of the SSMP off, I’m absolutely with you. A large part of the things that need to happen are not in council’s hands or control.

“If on the other hand, do we commit ourselves to an EA now, before we have the information complete from this portion of the study? I don’t see how we can.

“The whole purpose of getting to the end of this portion was to have the data that you need in order to make a reasoned decision on Yes or No going forward with the Environmental Assessment.”

Councillor Barb Tocher said, “I would not commit beyond the end of Phase Two of the SSMP, but am determined to see Phase Two of the SSMP complete.”