Protected areas are a proven means of conserving biological diversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change, two of the greatest challenges we face as a society. They also enjoy broad public support. For example, a 2018 national survey conducted by IPSOS found that 93 percent of Canadians believe that protected areas are necessary. Similarly, a 2019 national survey conducted by Abacus Data found that 88 percent of Ontarians support protecting or conserving more natural spaces and 91 percent supported Canada’s 2020 protected areas commitment. There is no doubt where the public interest lies on this issue.
Jack Imhof, an Aquatic Ecologist/Watershed Scientist, says “It is essential an independent federal assessment of the Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant be conducted in order to ensure the health of downstream communities and survival of the last healthy Brook Trout and Redside dace populations left in the Credit River watershed. This is NOT a “Fish or People” issue.” Jack Imhof has been involved in the study, assessment and management of the West Credit River since 1979, as well as the data collection and writing of the West Credit Subwatershed Study.
The Coalition for the West Credit River, of which the Belfountain Community Organization is a member, wish to inform Mayor Alan Alls and Council (the “Town”) that the questions asked in our 18 February 2021 correspondence were either not addressed at all or not satisfactorily addressed in the final Environmental Study Report (ESR) for the proposed Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant (Erin WWTP).
The Coalition reached out in good faith to the Mayor, in the hopes that he would answer our questions, and perhaps resolve some of our concerns and make it unnecessary to take this matter to the federal level for a review under the IAA. However, it has become crystal clear that the Mayor was not acting in good faith when we were informed by the Town’s lawyer, Quinto Annibale, in his 10 March 2021 email to me, that “all of the questions and issues which were raised and answered during the Part 2 Order request made to the Minister of the Environment Conservation and Parks pursuant to the Environmental Assessment Act. As you know the Minister considered each of these issues and refused to grant the Order. Since you participated in the Part 2 order request, my client sees very little useful purpose in answering the same questions again and therefore will not be responding to the detailed questions contained in your February 18, 2021 correspondence”.
ERIN: Mayor Alls of Erin boasted, “I can reach in my pocket and pay for it” when the Town of Erin announced the purchase of 5 Hectares of land for $2 – land with an estimated value of $210,000 in the Environmental Study Report (ESR).
Environmental lawyer David Donnelly spoke to the more than 300 people attending the March 25th virtual meeting to discuss the impact of the proposed Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant on dumping 7.2 million liters of sewage effluent daily into West Credit River Brook Trout habitat.
We, the 120 undersigned organizations, strongly oppose Schedule 3 of Bill 257, Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021, which proposes to amend the Planning Act so that both existing and future Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) would no longer have to be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). We request that you remove this schedule from Bill 257.
The PPS sets the policy foundation for comprehensive, integrated, long-term land use planning in Ontario. It “provides for appropriate development while protecting resources of provincial interest, public health and safety, and the quality of the natural and built environment” (PPS Preamble). Regularly revised and updated though extensive public consultations with experts, stakeholders and Indigenous rights-holders, the PPS is meant to provide balanced, relevant and widely supported policy direction on planning matters. The Planning Act requirement (section 3) that all decisions affecting planning matters “shall be consistent with” the PPS ensures certainty, fairness, consistency and substantive merit in planning decisions across the province. A development that can only be authorized by exempting it from the PPS is a development that ought not to be authorized at all.
The Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) strongly disagrees with your response to our numerous concerns and recommendations when you assert that you “have concluded that temperature effects have been adequately assessed using field data, a nearby wastewater treatment plant’s effluent temperature data, and CORMIX – a state-of-the-art mixing model”. Your response totally ignored a key issue we raised that will impact on every aspect of stream health and Brook Trout survival, both over the short term and into the future.
A Coalition member has reached out to your staff Planner to determine whether permits and authorizations were in place before this work was undertaken; however, this information has not been forthcoming.
Therefore, the Coalition is inviting you to attend our online Zoom meeting scheduled for Thursday, 25 March 2021, at 7:00 pm, to answer the following questions:
1. Which permits and/or authorizations did the Town of Erin and/or Solmar obtain before carrying out this work on the proposed Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant Project lands;
2. Who is the registered owner of the subject Project lands;
3. Who directed this work to be done; and
4. Who performed the work?
The Coalition for the West Credit River is writing to you today to share our urgent concerns about an impending and grave threat to the ongoing health of the West Credit River and the sensitive coldwater environment and ecosystem that it sustains. The West Credit River flows through the Towns of Erin and Belfountain, a premium get-away for fly fishers and GTA urban dwellers seeking near-wilderness respite just a short drive northwest of Toronto.
The West Credit River is acknowledged as one of the last remaining wild and self-sustaining native Brook Trout fisheries in southern Ontario and is recognized for its environmentally significant ecosystem as part of a UNESCO World Biosphere protected area, well before it exits at the Forks of the Credit River.
The Coalition for the West Credit River is following up on our previous correspondence dated 18 February 2021 as we have not yet received a response to our questions that were laid out as a precursor to a meeting with Council. Please let us know when we can expect answers to our questions so we can move forward with scheduling a meeting.
Also, on 25 February 2021, the Coalition filed a Designation Request with The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, under Subsection 9(1) of the Impact Assessment Act. We have since received acknowledgement that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada has commenced the review of our request, and that “If designated, to proceed with the Project, the Town of Erin would be required to submit an Initial Project Description, thereby commencing the planning phase of the IAA. In that case, the planning phase would include the Agency determining whether a federal impact assessment is required.”
ORA supports objectives that involve clean, healthy, safe and sustainable freshwater management. Our lakes and rivers flow across many borders, including municipal, regional, provincial and country-wide borders. Therefore, it is necessary to consider a Canada Water Agency that uses an integrated watershed and basin approach in its core mission and mandate, acting as an oversight agency.