May 03, 2018

Ministry to mediate on wastewater objections

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change will mediate between the Town of Erin and any residents who appeal the results of the Wastewater Environmental Assessment (EA).
The culmination of the Master Plan and Municipal Class EA process, which was mandated in 2004 and started in 2009, is publication of an Environmental Study Report (ESR), which is subject to a formal 30-day review period. The completed report is almost 2,000 pages, and will be available at, in libraries and at Town Hall.
On April 24 town council got a report from Joe Mullan, President of Ainley Group that has conducted Phases 3 and 4 of the EA. They agreed that the review period would be May 14 to June 14.
People can make comments to the town, or make a more formal appeal, known as a request for a Part II Order or a “bump-up”. This must be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change by June 14.
Eventually, Minister Chris Ballard would issue an order binding on all parties. He could require additional investigation or approve the plan, allowing the town to proceed with funding requests, design and construction.
A similar Part II Order process for the Station Street bridge, dam and pond lasted more than a year.
Mullan said his team would hold another meeting of the Public Liaison Committee and meet with others to resolve concerns. He said Part II Order requests should be as specific as possible, so the ministry can ask questions of the town and consultant.
“The ministry becomes a mediator, and then ultimately a decision maker,” said Mullan.
Ainley has already responded individually to 26 letters from residents. Concerns include costs for urban residents, growth of the urban population to 14,559 in the coming decades, possible costs for rural residents and risks to the natural environment.
Mullan says public concerns have been addressed through technical studies and public meetings over the last two years, but some residents say that the answers to their questions have been inadequate.
The preferred alternative includes a gravity collection system with low-pressure pumping in some areas, a forcemain connecting Hillsburgh to Erin village along the Elora-Cataract Trailway, a plant at County Road 52 and Tenth Line using membrane technology and UV treatment, and an outlet to the West Credit River at Winston Churchill Blvd.
“We have had preliminary talks with senior governments and have received positive feedback,” said Mayor Allan Alls. “This critical project will help us build a complete and sustainable community, which will attract new jobs.” 
After major contributions from developers and funding from senior governments, the local share of the eventual $118 million project could be $20 million. If so, each serviced property would pay an average of $7,500 for construction – though the actual amount could vary per property once the allocation formula is decided. It could be financed for up to 15 years.
In addition, individual connection charges paid to a private contractor are expected to be in the range of $4,000 to $8,000, depending on the property.
Once the system is running, yearly wastewater usage fees are estimated at $500 to $600 (based on rates in nearby municipalities).
Available in the wastewater section of the town website is a Frequently Asked Questions document with information on the project. The Town of Erin Facebook page has an animated video about the costs to property owners. 
Also on the site is Mullan’s 38-page presentation to council with the April 24 agenda. It includes a capital cost summary for all elements of the wastewater system and outlines financing options.