ERIN – Following disruptions to Main Street businesses caused by ongoing work for Enbridge gas lines in the village of Erin, the town is asking how future disruptions might be mitigated – namely during construction of Erin’s new wastewater treatment plant.
“We’ve had the experience, we know that there has been disruptions, let’s learn what we can from the people who had to actually live with those disruptions,” councillor John Brennan told council on Dec. 8. He moved a motion tasking staff with a survey of Main Street businesses.
Brennan said the pandemic, followed by the Enbridge work, makes poor timing for yet another disruption.
“Let’s do what we can to help them out,” he said.
Town council blamed online for disruptions
In an email to the Advertiser, Brennan noted he is “aware of numerous postings” online criticizing the timing of the Enbridge work, which he stated overlapped with the 172nd Erin Fall Fair during the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Some of the online comments, he wrote, “blamed [Erin] council for scheduling the work during the fair.”
Brennan took exception to the sentiment, stating council had “limited participation” in arranging the work.
The gas company has been making improvements to its plant, and thus upgrading gas lines under a road occupancy permit issued by the county. Traffic has been disrupted with lane and intersection closures.
However, according to town spokesperson Lavina Dixit, no Enbridge work took place on Thanksgiving weekend.
County engineer Don Kudo wrote in an email that Enbridge was “requested not to be on site because of potential traffic concerns.”
After multiple emails from the Advertiser to town and county officials, seeking to understand details about disruptions to businesses that weekend, Brennan later clarified by email that businesses have faced much disruption throughout the entire duration of the work, not solely on the fall fair weekend.
“I have no problem with Enbridge, the contractor or the county. No one did anything wrong,” Brennan stated.
“However, the work, when it was in the downtown core, was disruptive for businesses and their customers. The disruption was inevitable because of the nature of the work required … just a by-product of the process.”
Work is ongoing but has since progressed from the downtown core, and according to Dixit, it is expected to be completed by mid-February at the latest.
More disruptions on the way
“Having seen reports of the problems incurred by local merchants and knowing that we would see further disruption as work commences on pipe installation for the wastewater treatment system, I felt it would be prudent for the town to consult the affected merchants to see what we could learn from the Enbridge experience,” Brennan explained of his rationale for the motion.
At the Dec. 8 meeting, councillor Cathy Aylard agreed with Brennan’s sentiment, and councillor Bridget Ryan thanked him for the motion, saying, “It’s exactly what the community needs.”
Brennan told the Advertiser he is pleased the motion was carried, which he suggested shows “council and staff have the best interests of our local businesses and their customers in mind.”
Dixit wrote in an email the survey would be finalized “shortly.”
“It will be an online survey and will be distributed via direct email and through notices with [a] QR code to the survey,” she wrote.