February 08, 2018

Station Street project gets green light

The Town of Erin has received approval to reconstruct the Station Street bridge, rehabilitate the dam and preserve the Hillsburgh millpond.
Chris Ballard, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, announced the decision on Feb. 2, more than a year after the project was put on hold. Credit Valley Conservation and several residents had appealed the results of an Environmental Assessment, claiming the town followed a “flawed process”.
Wellington County owns the water control structure in the 
Hillsburgh millpond dam, while the Town of Erin owns the 
earthen berm that supports Station Street.
The minister dismissed all of the objections, but did order the town to monitor and mitigate the impact on local groundwater and wildlife. The town must ensure the bridge can withstand a major regional storm and make contingency plans for extreme weather events.
 “I am pleased that the minister agreed with the town’s position,” said Mayor Al Alls. “This structure is important to the successful movement of people. The added benefit of the province allowing the pond to stay is that we will continue to maintain an important cultural amenity that is a landmark of our community.”
Gooderham and Worts built the dam that created the Hillsburgh 
millpond in the early 1850s, with a new mill that shipped 
grain to what is now Toronto’s Distillery District. 
The Station Street bridge was built in 1917.
The $2.5 million project will now proceed, but will not be complete before the early summer opening of the new Hillsburgh Library next to the pond. Draining the pond would have cost an extra $700,000.
Credit Valley Conservation had wanted full consideration of decommissioning the dam and possibly creating a smaller “off-line” pond next to the river, to improve fish habitat. The town said it could not consider those options since Wellington County owns the pond and is committed to preserving it.
The minister said the town had “no obligation to carry forward alternatives that are not reasonable, practical or implementable”.
The 101-year-old bridge was first identified in 1971 as being in need of replacement. The road on the dam was closed in 2011 after a section subsided due to a failing outlet pipe. Temporary work was done in 2012 to make the road safe for traffic, and steel reinforcements installed to protect the earthen berm that holds back the water.