December 03, 2014

Council wants involvement in EA study

As published in The Erin Advocate

Some members of Town Council should be attending meetings to plan the next phase of the Environmental Assessment (EA) on Erin’s wastewater system, according to Councillor John Brennan.

Council received a report from Christine Furlong of Triton Engineering on an October 28 meeting to discuss Phase 3 of the EA, following from the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan study. The meeting included Erin’s CAO, lawyer and financial consultant, plus Triton, Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of the Environment – but no one from council.

“As we go into the EA, I would certainly like to see that that process includes some or all of the members of council in the deliberations,” said Brennan.

“Council should be directly involved in this – there are some weighty decisions to be made at the end of the EA process or through the EA process, and having council as well informed as possible is only to our advantage. I would suggest that for the new council, we have Triton provide us with an outline of the activities and consultations that they are undertaking in developing the Terms of Reference, along with regular updates on progress.”

CAO Kathryn Ironmonger said that Triton would be updating council on the activities, but that it was important to consult with provincial officials to make sure the Terms of Reference (TOR) would meet their requirements. Once the TOR is approved by Council and the MOE, the Town can hire a firm to conduct the EA.

Council voted unanimously to accept the update letter from Triton – its last decision before the new council takes office this week. There was discussion during the election campaign of a “performance-based” EA process, which has general support on the new council.

This could include not only Public-Private Partnership (P3) financing, which would come late in the process, but competitive bidding by private firms to manage the process and competition among other firms to provide the best technology.

Furlong said it was agreed by all in attendance at the October 28 meeting, that “it is premature to undertake a P3 procurement model at this time as the project is not defined (facility sites have not been determined, the division of growth between Hillsburgh has not been decided, etc.) During Phase 3 of the Class EA, P3 procurement can be considered and evaluated as a financing alternative.”

Wastewater EAs always have target performance criteria, especially regarding the quality of the effluent going into the river. A traditional Class EA report would specify in detail the technology selected to meet those targets. Furlong said Infrastructure Ontario (IO) is suggesting that the report not be too detailed.

“For a project to be more compatible for P3 procurement and to allow for design and construction flexibility/innovation, specific treatment equipment should not be included in the Environment Study Report (ESR). For example, there are several types of filters on the market for tertiary treatment of wastewater and IO is suggesting that the ESR should simply indicate the need for filtration and not be specific on the type of filtration.”