When these unregulated projects come home to roost, and the environmental impacts begin to damage or destroy highly valued public interests, such as our lakes and rivers, endangered species, our drinking water, and the economy, the government will pay a very high price. Unfortunately, the damage that will result from these irresponsible and negligent actions will not easily be undone, and in many cases will not be resolved in our lifetimes.
If the government wants to incorporate “one-project, one review”, then it must be a robust EA process with fulsome public and Indigenous consultation, or it may find the process much longer than it might have intended.
We are 63 environmental, farm and community organizations, many of which supported the February 3, 2021 designation request for a federal impact assessment of the Bradford Bypass highway (400-404 extension link) under the Impact Assessment Act. We are writing to indicate our support for the November 9, 2021 designation request made by three local community groups: Forbid Roads Over Green Spaces, Stop the Bradford Bypass and Concerned Citizens of King Township. Like them, we believe the proposed highway will result in adverse social and environmental impacts within federal jurisdiction.
The ORA strongly urges the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) to determine that a federal Impact Assessment is required to ensure that the ecological, social, and cultural effects of this proposed Project are rigorously assessed and mitigated. A federal IA would ensure that the potential ongoing cumulative effects of this Project on the environment, Indigenous communities and the public are fully addressed to ensure a more environmentally and socially sustainable outcome.
Judy Mabee, Chair of the Coalition and President of the Belfountain Community Organization stated that, “The Coalition is not deterred by the Minister’s Decision. We will continue on with our work to protect this highly valued coldwater Brook Trout population in the West Credit River. We are more than willing to work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other federal and provincial regulators, including the Town of Erin and its consultants, to advocate for a wastewater plant that sets a new best in class industry standard for the protection of sensitive coldwater receiving streams.”
After careful consideration of the information provided by the Town of Erin, federal authorities, provincial ministries, the local conservation authority, the concerns expressed in your letter, other known public concerns, and advice from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency), I decided that the Project does not warrant designation pursuant to Subsection 9(1) of the IAA.
The Coalition has carefully reviewed the ESR to see what habitat related to endangered or threatened species, Schedule 1 SARA species, migratory birds or rare and uncommon plants may have been impacted by significant damage that was done on the Solmar property in late December 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021. In particular, the damage related to the premature removal of brush and trees in and around the Project site, as well as significant damage to a first order tributary to the West Credit River in a Provincially Significant Wetland and Greenlands Natural Heritage designated area (Addendum 2). The Coalition has ascertained that there were no permits or authorizations for any of this work to take place. It is very difficult to do additional bird and tree studies when a great number of the trees and habitat were removed and burned.
The proposed Erin Wastewater Treatment Plant (Project) would release over 7 million liters of sewage effluent daily into the West Credit River, which is a relatively tiny receiver stream. This large volume of sewage effluent would be released downstream at the Wellington County Line into one of the last remaining native Brook Trout Populations in southern Ontario. This self-sustaining Brook Trout population is thriving because of the West Credit River’s unique and pristine coldwater habitat.
To confirm our position that the habitat within the culvert is not degraded and supports Brook Trout throughout the year, we draw your attention to a video by Steven Noakes, a local videographer, entitled, Brook Trout fry at proposed outfall location Erin WWTP, taken on the 30th of April 2021 in and around the culvert at the proposed effluent discharge site. The video confirms that Brook Trout fry are abundant in and around the culvert and demonstrates that the culvert habitat is not degraded, removing any question that it supports Brook Trout. In addition, Brook Trout spawning activity occurs a short distance above and below the culvert, where redds are abundant within 75 to 100m of it. There is no question that this area supports Brook Trout in various life stages.
The purpose of Aaron Detlor’s communication was to “advise that the Haudenosaunee hold treaty rights over the area contemplated by this Project, and that the Project will interfere with those rights and interests… At the same time we are hereby asking Minister Wilkinson and the Crown generally to withhold any pending approvals subject to the commencement of a good faith process to uphold the honour of the Crown”.
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.