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Residents heckle consultants, decry costs at wastewater meeting

by Olivia Rutt

ERIN - Residents voiced their concerns on Feb. 2 following a presentation on phase three of the Erin wastewater environmental assessment.

Joe Mullan of Ainely Group led the presentation about the proposed $108- to $128-million wastewater treatment facility.

Most of the information was presented to council on Jan. 9, but the public meeting offered residents their first opportunity to comment following the announcement of the cost estimates.

The Shamrock Room at Centre 2000 in Erin was standing room only as Mullan walked the public through the preferred options.

The presentation showed the preferred alternative for effluent outfall (where treated water is released) would be the west side of Winston Churchill Boulevard in the West Credit River.

The preferred alternatives for the location of a wastewater treatment facility are Solmar-owned lands or Halton Crushed Stone (HCS) lands on either side of Wellington Road 52.

The preferred collection method for each village is a blend of gravity and low pressure systems. The preferred connection between each community would use the Elora Cataract Trail. Mullan also discussed the preferred treatment technology process.

The preferred alternatives are expected to cost $50 million to $60 million for the existing community and $58 to $68 million to service future development.

Many in the audience were upset over the cost estimates per household, expected to be $20,000 to $25,000 per property (before any federal or provincial grant) plus a hook-up cost now estimated at $6,000 and annual operating costs of $400 to $500.

“In Erin, the money comes from the residential taxpayers, and I would like to ask where this extra money on top of very high taxes is going to come from,” said one upset Erin resident.

Gary Scandlan of Watson and Associates explained his company is looking to receive as much funding as possible.

“It’s necessary in order to move ahead, as I noted, because of the debt capacity - how much is yet to be seen,” he said.

“There will be a cost, a net cost, at the end of it ... that net cost will be recovered from the homeowners ... who will benefit from that.”

One homeowner asked if there was an option to opt out of the  future wastewater system.

Scandlan said municipalities have different ways of transitioning households onto the system, but that would need to be worked out through the town’s policies.

“Normally, they have, within a certain period, a mandatory hook up,” he said.

During the hour-long question and answer period, many residents heckled presenters and cheered on other residents.

One man yelled “Just leave us alone” after asking the consultants why residents should be excited about this when he has a “perfectly good, working system” in place.

Another resident, Ed Delaporte, took the floor for several minutes.

“Whether you’re going to be connected to this system or not, this is going to be a tremendous expense that the Town of Erin, Hillsburgh is going to go through,” he said.

Delaporte asked what was the “impending doom” on the environment that required the town to go through the process. “Let’s get the council to understand that we do not want this sewer system, we do not want to be burdened by it, we do not want to be smelling it and most importantly, if you’re going to locate a sewage treatment plant, what the heck are you doing putting it right next to residences?” he said.

There were multiple calls from the audience to hold a referendum on the issue during the 2018 municipal election.  

Erin business owner Jim Holmes said he went through a wastewater process in Meadowvale.

“You’re taxes are high and I think the reason your taxes are high is because you don’t have a tax base. You need growth. I hate to say it,” Holmes said.

“You’re going to get (wastewater) eventually. It’s this much now; you wait five year, 10 years, you’re going to get in a lot deeper.”

Mayor Allan Alls told the crowd at the end of the meeting residents will “get a chance” to offer their opinion on this process during the election.

“It’s not an easy position for any one of us on council,” Alls said.

“You’re not going to be able to live here if we don’t do something and do it damn soon.”

Alls also read out a letter from Upper Grand District School Board trustee Kathryn Cooper, who wrote the town needed growth.

“I firmly believe we need sewage capacity that will enable growth and from my perspective, the quicker the better,” stated the letter.

“Without wastewater treatment and vibrant growth, we leave 409 student places empty, which will very likely result in the closure of a school, if not more.”

Comments on the study will be accepted until Feb. 28 by email to Christine Furlong at Triton Engineering cfurlong@triton.on.ca or to Joe Mullan at erin.urban.classea@ainleygroup.com.

After all comments have been received, Ainley will prepare a draft Environmental Study Report, which will be open for another 30-day commenting period.

February 9, 2018

 
 

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