Erin’s growth has been hindered by the ongoing wastewater environmental assessment, but it now appears huge growth is a possibility for the town.
At a special council meeting on Nov. 8, John Mullan of Ainley Group provided an update on the EA process, presented new information, including updated servicing numbers, and suggested which neighbourhood to connect to future municipal services,.
The EA process is currently in phase two, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Phase two includes a peer review of the Assimilative Capacity Study, which stated servicing could be provided for 6,000 people, allowing Erin to grow by just 1,500 people.
Now, however, that number has been updated, said Mullan.
He explained populations from existing areas and new growth areas total 14,500 people. Updated river flow data indicates the full population can be serviced by municipal wastewater.
“You will see that there is a possibility now for the municipality to service some additional lands and, in fact, even whilst also protecting the West Credit River,” said Mullan.
He stressed the new number does not mean the town will grow to a 14,500 people, only that the town has the ability to service that population based on updated flow numbers and the technology available.
“This shows from an engineering perspective … that it is possible to achieve that,” he said.
Mullan added a full build-out of the growth areas could take up to 25 years.
Councillor Jeff Duncan said this gives council more options.
“Before, the way the numbers were, numbers drove our decisions; the numbers were totally in control of how much growth,” he said.
“With this study, it’s the opposite, we get to drive the numbers.”
However, Mayor Allan Alls didn’t want to dwell on the highest number.
“Don’t take away that we’ll grow to 15,000 people, that’s just a technical possibility,” he said.
CAO Derek McCaughan agreed, saying the town would have to go through an official plan amendment.
“The OP amendment is a very public process and the question about how much growth the Town of Erin will experience has to be subjected to that public process,” McCaughan said.
Alls added after the meeting that he was pleased with presentation.
“I’m happy, but I don’t want to see us grow like Georgetown or Milton or Brampton … people move to the community for the rural life that’s there,” he said.
“But what a lot of people don’t understand, without growth we can’t afford to keep this community.”
Ainley Group also conducted a septic system survey to determine the future service areas. Erin village was divided into seven areas, Hillsburgh into five. Mullan said they looked at the tank size on the individual lots, the age of the tank and the size of the lot. With these criteria, Ainley Group recommended neighbourhoods to be hooked up to a wastewater system.
The recommendations for Erin village include connecting the industrial area, town core areas one and two, southeast Erin and Erin heights – but not connecting south Erin and northeast Erin.
The recommendations for Hillsburgh include connecting town cores one and two, south Trafalgar Road and George Street – but not connecting Upper Canada Drive.
Mullan said the bottom line is Erin village and Hillsburgh can implement a municipal wastewater treatment facility that would meet existing needs, allow in-fill and intensification and “service all new growth areas identified in the town’s official plan, whilst also, most importantly, protecting the West Credit River.”
Ainley Group is expected to hold a public information night in January. Phase three, which included costing information, would be completed by next September.
Maps, documents and other information on the EA are available at erin.ca/town-hall/wastewater-ea.