Chris Simon
Innisfil Scope
Proposed expansion would be costly and inefficient, says Environmental Defence
A well-known lobbyist group, and a member of an advisory committee overseeing the environmental assessment for the proposed expansion of the Lakeshore Water Pollution Control Plant, are openly calling for further review of the project.

Town council accepted copies of letters submitted to the provincial government, regarding the environmental assessment for the Lakeshore WPCP, during a meeting last week. The letters, which were written by Lakeshore WPCP advisory committee member Jim Roberts and Environmental Defence executive director Rick Smith recently, suggest there have been serious flaws in the process to date.

Specifically, Smith wants the provincial government to oversee the project’s EA process directly.

“The LWPCP (environmental screening report) and EA completely ignores the value of more immediate environmentally and economically practical options for meeting future sewage treatment requirements,” said Smith, in the letter. “The project practically guarantees that Innisfil will be a leader in wasting water, in a watershed that can ill afford it. The only way the public can be assured that this project passes the test of ensuring environmentally sound is that (Ministry of the Environment representatives) intervene directly, overseeing a proper individual EA.”

Meanwhile, Roberts is calling for a more in-depth study to be conducted.

“I would like to request that the minister of the environment make an order for the project to comply with the Environmental Assessment Act,” he said, in his letter. “The assimilative capacity of Lake Simcoe, the cumulative impact of the effluent, and the run-off from increased development were not properly addressed in this assessment.”

Environmental Defence representatives made a delegation to council in December, suggesting the expansion would be inefficient and expensive, and represent poor environmental management.

“They talk about how much it’s going to cost to hook-up; I’m really surprised to hear Environmental Defence argue against getting private septic systems off (the) lake,” said councillor Lynn Dollin, after the delegation. “I would perhaps expect a ratepayers group to be concerned about taxes.”

The organization also asked the town to expand the public consultation process from the mandatory 30 days to 60, since the period fell partly over the Christmas holiday season. That request was turned down.

“The proposed expansion is profoundly flawed … in that it … breaks off the assessment of the plant from the extensive pipe network that will be required to transport wastewater to it,” said Smith. “(It) neglects to address the financial viability of the plan, which in turn may lead to poor environmental management and unsustainable development for the community. (It) fails to implement a water conservation plan in advance of an expansion … if (the province) allows this EA to conclude under the current circumstances, (they) will imperil the financial and ecological viability of Innisfil.”

The EA explored the feasibility of expanding the the site from 14 million litres per day to 40 million. An expansion of the plant is expected to be required in 2015 and 2025, to meet the demands of anticipated growth within the municipality.

Although the project is expected to cost millions of dollars to complete, most of the expense will be paid for through development charges and other growth-related revenue, said town director of infrastructure Jim Zimmerman.

“A majority of the expansion will be paid by growth, and as such by builders through pre-payment or DCs collected,” he said. “There is potential for a portion of that to be paid by existing residents, provided we’re connecting them to the system. But any growth components will purely be paid by growth-related initiatives.”