ERIN – A Belfountain-based petition opposing the construction of a wastewater treatment plant in the Town of Erin has been signed by more than 4,500 people – but the mayor does not think it will make a difference.
Using the slogan “Cut the crap, keep the Credit,” the petition urges the provincial government to stop Erin from developing a sewer system, forcing urban residents in Hillsburgh and Erin village to continue using private septic systems.
“We need to protect this beautiful river from Erin and Hillsburgh’s effluent,” states the petition.
The effluent will enter the river at the border where it leaves Erin, enters the Town of Caledon and flows through Belfountain.
“We’ve proved that the water going back into the river is better than the water now. It won’t affect the trout,” said Erin Mayor Allan Alls.
Yet opponents say downstream communities were not sufficiently consulted.
“The West Credit is one of the very few remaining cold water rivers in southern Ontario; its spring-fed waters are unique,” states the petition.
“The release of treated sewage effluent into this pristine section of the West Credit River will result in irreversible damage and the permanent collapse of our treasured native brook trout and Atlantic salmon fishery.
“Over time, fish and other aquatics will not tolerate the toxic content of this waste water. This planned wastewater treatment plant cannot effectively remove life altering and damaging substances such as endocrine disruptors, salt, medications, micro-plastics, etc. The technology is simply not there.
“The Headwaters of the Greenbelt has to be a priority. Don’t allow the West Credit River to become an urban growth casualty.”
Alls said the planning of the wastewater system is at the end of a 15-year process that has had much public attention, with constant supervision by the Ministry of the Environment and Credit Valley Conservation, and he does not think the petition will have any effect.
“They can sign all the petitions they want – I can’t control that,” said Alls.
“Most of them are from Toronto and have no idea what’s going on. They don’t pay taxes in Erin and have nothing to do with me. But it’s upsetting in a way. They think we’re going to put poop in the river – we’re not.”
Last year the town completed a wastewater environmental assessment, but three “Part 2” appeals were made to the minister of the environment to block or change the plan.
Appeals were made by the Belfountain Community Organization (BCO); Ann Seymour of Belfountain, who has the river running through her property; and Erin environmental activist Liz Armstrong.
“We are trying to save our river from significant upstream contamination and development that will wipe out the native fishery,” said Seymour, who is promoting the petition.
The town has been waiting for a year for approval by the minister, and has been promised an answer this month.
The town will need major financial support from senior governments to build the system, and Alls said he is “reasonably convinced that we have the money”.
Alls said Caledon council and Peel Region have been “fully informed about what’s going on, and basically supported what we’re trying to do.”