Submitted by editor Chris Simon

A letter from an environmental lobbyist regarding a proposed sewage
treatment plant expansion is being dismissed as a ‘libelous’ and a
‘stall tactic’ by some town councillors.
Claire Malcolmson, a representative from Campaign Lake Simcoe and
Environmental Defence, submitted a letter to the town recently, which
made several recommendations on the proposed expansion of the Innisfil
Sewage Treatment Plant.
According to Malcolmson, the town fails to adequately address
phosphorous loading, water conservation, financing, technological and
septic system concerns in the environmental assessment process that is
currently underway.
“Notwithstanding our commitment to collaborate with the town in the
best interests of the lake, we reserve the right to seek provincial
intervention and a bump up of this project, to ensure the most
rigorous assessment,” she said. “Water conservation is inadequately
addressed. Until each sub-watershed and municipality affected by an
expansion has a plan, it is premature to approve a phosphorous load
increase. Innisfil’s (sub-watershed) plan is not complete, a factor
that singularly warrants suspension of this EA.”
Proposed residential phosphorous levels should also be reduced, from
400 litres per day per person, to 210. That would match efficiency
achieved in Guelph, though Canadians typically use about 329 litres
per day, she said.
Councillor Bill Pring says the town should be considering legal action
against the parties that wrote the letter.
“I find this letter libelous,” he said. “I suggest the town begin
taking legal action against the authors. The multi-millionaires in Big
Bay Point usually use their properties three to four months per years,
(but) are dictating to 33,000 residents of the town.”
Others accuse Malcolmson of deliberately attempting to delay the expansion.
“It’s a lobby group sponsored by taxpayers’ money; (and) we have to
spend taxpayers’ money to defend ourselves,” said councillor Bill Van
Berkel, then taking a dig at fellow councillor and deputy mayoral
candidate Dan Davidson’s involvement in Environmental Defence, and
other lobbyist groups opposed to the Big Bay Point Resort. “It’s time
to stop the special interest groups and the ‘Old Boys Club’ of Big Bay
Malcolmson says the EA is inappropriate at this time, since several
opponents of the resort are still involved in legal battles with the
developer, Kimvar Enterprises/Geranium Corporation.
“We are deeply concerned that this EA, and in particular the public
consultation component, has been conducted under the chill of tens of
millions in outstanding lawsuits against residents opposed to the
resort,” she said. “Many residents affected may have felt threatened
… and did not participate in the public consultation. Completing
this EA under these circumstances is unacceptable.”
But Pring disagrees.
“We have a letter from a lawyer indicating there are no lawsuits
proceeding between Kimvar and members of the (Innisfil District
Association),” he said. “These delays have delayed over $2 million in
new tax revenue to the town, plus a possible thousand jobs. This is a
delaying tactic, and I find it very difficult to delay this for the
sake of a few people.”
But everyone, regardless of affiliation, should have the opportunity
to express their concerns over the proposed expansion, said councillor
Lynn Dollin.
“An EA is an open public act. Anybody who wants to comment can,” she
said. “I have full respect for whoever takes the time to sit down with
our consultant and draft a correspondence. Yes, some things take
longer, but I’d sooner have that than apathy.”
The letter has been submitted to the town’s legal counsel for review.