Government rules no further assessment required for Erin wastewater plant

ERIN – The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has ruled no further assessment is required at the federal level for the Town of Erin’s proposed wastewater treatment plant.

On May 26, minister Jonathan Wilkinson determined the project does not warrant designation under the Impact Assessment Act.

As noted in the report, Wilkinson considered the potential for the project to cause adverse effects within federal jurisdiction, adverse direct or incidental effects, public concern related to these effects, as well as adverse impacts on the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

On Feb. 26 the Coalition of the West Credit River, a collaboration of environmental groups opposed to the plant, submitted a request for a federal review of the proposed Erin wastewater plant.

Wilkinson ruled a designation is unwarranted as potential adverse effects within federal jurisdiction would be limited through project design and the application of standard mitigation measures.

The Town of Erin released a statement welcoming the response from the minister and reaffirming that the project will continue as planned. It also stressed the numerous studies conducted to ensure the project’s compliance with environmental concerns.

Proposed design for the Erin wastewater treatment facility, prepared by WSP. (Erin council image)

“We would like to reiterate that council is committed to ensuring that we create a prosperous, healthy, environmentally progressive, livable, and inviting Town of Erin,” the statement reads.

“The protection of our environment will remain at the forefront of our discussions as this project moves forward and our advocacy with the higher levels of government is focused at making this project a viable and sustainable solution for Erin and our residents who call it home.”

In a press release, the Coalition for the West Credit River expressed its disappointment in the minister’s decision.

“We felt we had built a fairly strong case and we were optimistic that the federal ministry might pick it up, but as it turned out they aren’t,” said Judy Mabee, chair of the coalition and president of the Belfountain Community Organization.

“This will not deter us moving forward when it comes to continuing to advocate for the brook trout and the West Credit River. This aquatic ecosystem must be protected so we will continue to advocate and correspond with the Town of Erin if they will allow us to have input into the process.”

Mabee added, “We will connect with the department of fisheries and oceans when it comes to impact to habitats or deleterious substances in the water (and) continue to monitor compliance through the [Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks] to ensure that all of the ministries are functioning at optimum and providing the best possible solutions for the river and the fish.”

Moving forward, Mabee said the coalition will be reviewing each of the documents that have been provided through the Impact Assessment Agency to ensure that there is transparency in everything that’s on the table at this point in time.

Erin Mayor Allan Alls said he is pleased with, and thankful for, Wilkinson’s decision.

“The environment assessment has been thorough and the minister’s decision vindicates our position,” stated Alls.

“We have been working diligently to bring this wastewater treatment plant to Erin for a while now.

“This is a key infrastructure that is needed for a sustainable growth of our community.”