In short, the recommendation of the town’s new Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP) report is to move on to the next stage of study.
On Sept. 2 at 7pm, Erin is hosting a special public information meeting regarding the SSMP report.
On Aug. 12 Matt Pearson, of BM Ross and Associates, presented to council the final report on the current stage in the process.
At the start of the presentation Mayor Lou Maieron spied a trolley cart stacked with boxes at the back of the council chamber and quipped that he hoped the boxes were filled with money for a new sewage treatment plant and not reports to read.
But the boxes indeed contained reports, the mayor was informed.
Pearson said he wasn’t sure if anyone had noticed, “But I’ve been hanging around here for five years now working away at this Servicing and Settlement Master Plan. We are here tonight to deliver the SSMP report.”
He stated there was a 200-page report and probably 1,000 pages of back-up materials.
“This report represents the end of a process for a municipality but also the start of the next step in the journey,” Pearson explained.
The goal of the SSMP was to develop servicing strategies consistent with county and provincial policies.
“The SSMP will serve as a guide as to how best to serve existing residents and plan for new growth,” said Pearson.
“I hope the SSMP helps the municipality in growing into its potential.”
Erin currently lacks a long-term, comprehensive strategy for the provision of water and wastewater servicing in the villages of Erin and Hillsburgh.
A number of limitations are associated with the current status of servicing within the town’s urban areas.
Wastewater is treated exclusively by private, on-site wastewater treatment systems.
Within Hillsburgh and Erin village, private property investment and redevelopment is restrained by increasingly stringent setbacks required for septic systems, small lot sizes and the presence of private wells.
While these communities are identified as areas of modest growth under the Places to Grow Act and by Wellington County population projections, the current servicing infrastructure is inadequate to meet future demand to 2035.
Partial water servicing in Erin village and Hillsburgh limits the operational and cost efficiency of the systems and inhibits redevelopment and future development.
The capacity of the existing system will need to be augmented to address current limitations and the needs of future development.
The West Credit River currently shows impacts from urban stormwater drainage, resulting from limited stormwater management infrastructure. Given existing impacts and potential future impacts relating to development, there is a need to assess existing and future stormwater management infrastructure.
Assimilative capacity study
A study of the capacity of the West Credit River to accept treated wastewater effluent had a significant influence on the SSMP.
It was recommended by the core management team that a conservative population of 6,000 persons of assimilative capacity should be carried forward as the potential for treating sewage and discharging effluent to the West Credit River.
This study was subject to considerable review by the Ministry of the Environment and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, two agencies charged with enacting regulations to preserve the integrity of the receiving stream.
The target population was carried forward into servicing scenarios based on providing wastewater service to the existing developed areas of both Hillsburgh and Erin Village, with the remainder of the capacity allocated to future growth.
The three servicing scenarios are recommended to be carried over into the next phase of the Class EA process. After evaluation, there was no reason to endorse or eliminate any scenarios at this stage of the Class EA process, the report states.
Scenario 1 – Split growth: service existing properties in Erin and Hillsburgh and provide for 250 units of growth in both Erin and Hillsburgh.
Scenario 2 – Growth in Erin: service existing properties in Erin and Hillsburgh and provide for 500 units of growth in Erin only.
Scenario 3 – Growth in Hillsburgh: service existing properties in Erin and Hillsburgh and provide for 500 units of growth in Hillsburgh only.
The report provides a number of recommendations that are key to implementing the SSMP:
– move forward with the remaining phases of the Class EA process to develop a strategy to provide a sanitary sewage collection system for the settlement areas of Hillsburgh and Erin Village based on the servicing scenarios;
– seek out senior government funding assistance for this undertaking. The SSMP can be used as a supporting document to build a case sewage collection would provide considerable economic, health and environmental benefits;
– undertake water servicing upgrades as defined in the report, so that appropriate facilities are in place when required to service future growth;
– review and amend the town’s Official Plan as needed to implement the SSMP and allocate growth within its urban boundaries;
– apply stormwater management policies, as discussed in the report, to manage new growth areas and to address deficiencies with existing stormwater management; and
– monitor transportation issues in conjunction with the growth of the urban areas and work with the county to implement measures to alleviate issues.
The SSMP has identified a need for communal sanitary sewage servicing, but a system that discharges into the West Credit River is limited in the number of persons it can accommodate.
A next decision of council will be to determine which servicing scenario to choose. The final design and a more detailed cost of any solution would be determined in detail during Phase 3 and 4 of a Class Environmental Assessment.
“Ultimately the town could decide not to carry through with any scenario (the do-nothing option) if the costs or environmental impacts are deemed not feasible for the town,” the report states.
The report provides estimated costs for a traditional project to implement a sanitary sewage solution for the SSMP. This would involve constructing a sewage treatment facility discharging into the West Credit River to service the existing population (4,500) of Hillsburgh and Erin Village and an additional 1,500 persons of future development.
Potential capital costs to provide sewage treatment/sanitary services for both Erin and Hillsburgh could run upwards of $58 million, with annual operating costs of $900,000.
Additional water servicing costs for both communities – to connect those not currently connected and allow for future growth – could cost another $7.7 million in capital costs.
Only the work incurred to service future growth could be paid for through development charges.
At the conclusion of the report presentation, Maieron said there is a group concerned with the funds involved in this project.
He said the study was complicated by bringing in additional lands into the proposal rather than a straight servicing study.
“Adding land to trigger a study was a big mistake,” Maieron said, adding residents had hoped to see more options proposed within the report.
He added that for all the cost involved, the recommendations allow for an expansion to just 6,000 residents, or 1,500 more than the current population.
“A lot of people had expected growth to pay for itself,” said Maieron.
He did not anticipate an easy situation going forward for whoever is sitting at the council table, but said, “We’d been expecting a clearer path forward.”