Extension for Inverhuron water & sewer project timeline denied
by Sandy Lindsay

March 31, 2015

Town Council

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In the Fall of 2008, Kincardine received notice that grant funding for the Inverhuron sewer and water project had been granted in the amount of $6,076,400.

The first public meeting was held in June, 2009 with the second in July of 2010.  In the winter of 2010 a preliminary engineering study was completed and then, in July of 2011, a final public meeting was held.

It wasn't until 2013 that the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) agreement was finalized and in December, 2014 a letter of approval was received from the Ministry of the Environment wit construction to being this year, 2015.

It was determined that there were private well-quality issues and there were concerns over contaminants getting into the aquifer.

According to Laura Haight, early survey results have 'gone astray' and cannot be found.  "The original question to residents was do you want sewer and water or not,"  said Haight.  "When grants were coming through, council of the day saw there was a need for infrastructure sewer and water in Inverhuron."

"For the last four years there were a number of open houses, there were a lot of questions and concerns and the main two issues were a 'gravity' system versus a 'grinding pump'," said Councilor Maureen Couture.  "The municipality said that they would assume the maintenance of the grinding pump system into the future."

"When the water line went to Inverhuron without the sewers," said Councilor Randy Roppel, "there was a survey taken by the Inverhuron Raterpayers Association with respect to the water issue.  At that time, 85 per cent of the residents said 'no' they didn't want the water to start off with.  Then, to add more fuel to the fire, they were given an option.  If they didn't require the water, they didn't have to hook up.  The motion was then given at a public meeting and the people were told ... "if you do not want this water, you don't have to hook up".  The only ones that had to hook up was anybody with a 'communal' well, who was either forced to change the way they did it or hook up to the water line."

"This is where this whole thing started going off the rails," added Roppel.  "Now, we're into this debt on the water line and we're into a study for water and sewer.  I know for a fact that there are people who want water and sewer and there are people who just want water and there are people who don't want either.  We are at a big crossroad here on how we are going to address this issue and how we are going to be fair to all the people."

Councilor Laura Haight said there is a wide variety of properties in question with respect to size, age of septic systems and some who are on holding systems.  "When the grant came about in September, 2008, Council didn't simply say ... sure, let's pick Inverhuron.  There were issues of flooding in the spring and clearly septic systems were floating up to the surface.  There were issues for source water protection with the wells and future development. The council of the day said here is an opportunity to get the services down there with a savings of 60 per cent (2/3 funding from Federal and provincial).  I agree there is a variety of opinions and one would be there was more concern for sewers but to apply just for sewers without water given issues around source water protection, the grant would never have been given."

Councilor Gord Campebll expressed his concern that he did not want the town to "... be stuck with debt.  Is there a time extension beyond March, 2016?  I want to see this timeline extended because this is a different kind of a system.  I don't know if people know how long this is going to take so that people don't get stuck on the cost."

"I'll tell you the political thing," added Haight.  "We tried to get the Minister into a meeting and on March 9th we are meeting with the group that looks at extensions and there has been a flurry of political interventions.  It concerns me greatly."

Mayor Anne Eadie, added that an answer was expected and that she  "... shared the concerns of council to get the extension."

"I can almost guarantee that by the time we go to tender," said Haight, "we will know if we have that extension and, hopefully, we have that extension.  By then, we'll know if we have to have the project done by March, 2016 or if we have until March, 2017.  We all know that a number of things can go wrong with a project of this scale.  It is a tight, tight timeline and though engineers feel it can be accomplished, I would rather have the flexibility from an extension."

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BM Ross Engineering also gave a deputation to Council on March 4th (2015) walking Council through the Timelines that had been undertaken from the outset of the proposed Inverhuron project.

During problem identification, information came forward that Inverhuron is classified as a high risk area in that the make-up of bedrock allows for fast water movement under a permeable layer with many aging and poorly maintained septic systems and the close proximity of wells to septic systems. 

According to BM Ross, 60 per cent of the lots are too small to contain a septic system. 

There were three options presented that ranged from per property sewage costs of $4,599, $13,800 to $22,200 or for sewer and water of $13,975, $23,275 to $31,675.

 When making a commitment to the Ministry of the Environment a municipality must follow through as part of the proposed project.  Therefore, failing to do so could result in prosecution and for this project, there are several environmental commitments that must be met.

"If we don't get the extension," says BM Ross, "we will have to work in the peak tourism season.  Also, we have to meet archeology and environmental requirements."

There is a possibility that some of the grant money will be 'clawed back' if the project does not proceed as described. 

It is the municipality's decision through a By-law to allow for exemptions due to things such as distance that would be prohibitive to do the archeology assessment.

According to Councilor Haight, she said that she felt the Municipality had a very good case for an extension

In a letter received on March 23 by the Municipality of Kincardine from the 'Building Canada Fund', the request for an extension of the Inverhuron water and sewer project timeline has been refused.


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Monday, March 30, 2015