September 17, 2014

Sewer assessment to proceed

As published in The Erin Advocate

Erin Town Council has voted to move forward with an environmental assessment (EA) of servicing options for Erin village and Hillsburgh.

It was the final element of the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP) process, and councillors were eager to tell the public that it was not a decision to actually build a sewer system, but to study how it should be done.

The motion approved by Council in a vote of 4-1 also approved the recommendations of the SSMP Final Report. Mayor Lou Maieron was the only member opposed, saying there is too much uncertainty about possible housing development and the cost of an EA. He said the goal seems “unattainable” and that he has a problem with “writing a blank cheque” for the process.

“I’m not saying don’t go ahead,” he said. “Leave it to the next council to get answers.”

Councillors John Brennan, Barb Tocher and Josie Wintersinger each said the EA is the only way to get the answers about actual costs and sewer technologies, so decisions can be made on development. If it is too expensive, the Town won’t do it, said Brennan.

Tocher said the Town has made no commitment or exclusion about the type of sewage treatment or the method of financing. Up to 500 new homes could be in Erin village, Hillsburgh or both, including intensification in existing neighbourhoods.

The SSMP recommendations are quite sweeping, but were not debated individually. They say that the Town should do the following:

• Proceed with the remaining phases of the EA (the SSMP was Phases 1 and 2 only) to plan a sanitary sewage collection system for the urban areas, based on the scenarios in the report.

• Seek senior government funding.

• Undertake water servicing upgrades to be ready for future growth.

• Amend its Official Plan to implement the SSMP and allocate growth within the urban boundaries. The County of Wellington should revise its Official Plan to reflect the Town’s capacity for wastewater treatment, including adjustments to population forecasts.

• Deal with stormwater and roads issues related to new growth.

• Use the information in the SSMP Report “to further the ongoing advancement of the municipality so that it will continue to be a place that people will want to live in as defined by the Community Vision Statement.”