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Wastewater decision will take months

MPP visits Erin - MPP Andrea Khanjin, parliamentary assistant to the minister of the environment, conservation and parks, is welcomed by Mayor Allan Alls.  Photo by Phil Gravelle

Wastewater decision will take months

Residents have heard from an MPP who is close to the action in Ontario’s environment ministry, but they did not get the news Mayor Allan Alls was hoping to hear.

Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin was the guest speaker at the mayor’s breakfast on Jan. 31 at the Erin Legion, with about 100 people in attendance. She is  the parliamentary assistant to Rod Philips, minister of the environment, conservation and parks (MOECP).

The mayor thought the ministry might use the occasion to announce approval of the town’s wastewater environmental assessment (EA).

It was completed last May but is still under appeal to the environment minister through three requests for a “part II order” that could result in changes or additional study.

Some aspects of the EA have also been challenged by the ministry of natural resources and forestry (MNRF), though approval authority rests with the environment ministry.

“I want to reassure you that we are currently reviewing the part II order request from the environmental assessment, and it should be completed by late spring to early summer,” said Khanjin, adding MNRF concerns will be given full consideration.

Issues include the cost of the sewer system, water conservation, the study of alternatives, location of the treatment plant and discharge point, the impact of treated effluent on fish and the risk of discharging untreated effluent.

The EA included study of these factors, under the guidance of the MOECP. Ainley, the town’s consultant, has provided information and explanations to support the EA, but the environment ministry has not provided an official response.

“Our government is committed to quality water and wastewater services, to help ensure strong, healthy communities across Ontario,” said Khanjin.

 “We have to balance the rural and the urban, and a town like Erin offers a unique lifestyle, pristine beauty, a rural life with advantages of being close to the urban centres.

“It’s the perfect mix for a wonderful community, but there’s always room for improvement and always room for growth, but it has to be smart growth, and done in the right way.

“A one-size fits all solution is not the answer. Erin is not Toronto.”

Khanjin quoted a speech by Premier Doug Ford at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference held Jan. 27 to 29 in Toronto, attended by an Erin delegation: “Our government is listening to the needs of rural Ontario. We are working to help all regions grow and prosper. You can always count on a partner in our government.”

She said the PC government’s Made in Ontario Environmental Plan, introduced last November, is intended to protect air, land and water, reduce waste and litter, support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help people prepare for climate change.

 “It makes a new era of environmental protection possible, but not at the hinderance of our economy; makes life easier and more affordable; and makes our province more competitive again.”

Khanjin said winding down the previous cap and trade carbon tax system has contributed to lower gasoline prices.

She said the $3 billion in revenue that had been generated by cap and trade was not lost, but simply returned to the people.

“We don’t think we should be taxing you at the pumps,” she said. “If there’s more money in your pocket, that’s more money you can spend towards the economy.”

Khanjin said initiatives will include a provincial day of action to clean up litter, tougher emission testing for heavy vehicles, reduction of plastic litter by making polluters pay, reduction of excess phosphorous and salt in waterways, expansion of organic waste collection, and “innovative ways to recover resources from waste, including thermal treatment and chemical recycling.”

The government’s target is to reduce climate-change-causing emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“This target strikes the right balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strong economic growth,” she said.

 

February 8, 2019

 
 

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