June 25, 2014

Sewers challenged for existing homes

As published in The Erin Advocate

Solmar Development Corp. says the Town’s decision to reserve sewage capacity for existing residents of Hillsburgh and Erin village “promotes a strategy which is not financially viable and is contrary to the public interest.”

Councillors reviewed a letter from Solmar lawyer Kimberly Beckman at a closed session on June 17 with their lawyer. The letter is published as part of the public agenda. They voted to send it to Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP) consultant BM Ross “as public input”, but made no comments about it.

A limit of 6,000 urban residents is now set in the SSMP, based on the capacity of the West Credit River to safely absorb sewage effluent. Reserving capacity to service the existing 4,500 residents undermines provincial growth policies and leaves “very little capacity to service new development in the Town,” said Solmar.

The builder also challenges expansion of the SSMP mandate to include Hillsburgh, saying the original “intent and purpose of the SSMP was to develop a comprehensive servicing plan which would inform and support future development in the Erin Urban Area.”

The firm continues to protest the Town’s refusal to process its application for 1,200 new homes north of Erin village until the SSMP is done. Also on hold is a plan by Manuel Tavares to build 1,000 new homes in Hillsburgh. A limit of 1,500 new residents means there may be only 500 new homes, many of them built within existing neighbourhoods.

Solmar says the provincial growth plan gives clear direction that new wastewater infrastructure “is intended to serve growth and to be planned in a manner that achieves the Town’s intensification and density targets”.

It acknowledges that municipal services should be provided where servicing problems have been identified, but claims no servicing problems have been identified with existing homes.

It says planning documents do not support serving existing homes “at the expense of growth” and that failure to build subdivisions would force the cost of sewers “squarely on the municipality and the existing taxpayers”. The SSMP is in its final stages, with council expecting financial analysis of various options.

“The Solmar applications present a promising opportunity for the Town in terms of employment growth and much needed jobs, a range of housing options, recreation and green space opportunities, and most importantly for the feasibility of any municipal wastewater system in the Town, very substantial hard and soft infrastructure investment,” said their letter.

A council workshop (open to the public) is planned for July 9 and a full public meeting now set for September 2. Council hopes to complete the process before the October 27 municipal election.