Published on February 4th 2013
At its special meeting on January 31st, Council authorized the submission of the following response on behalf of the Town to Enerdu’s environmental assessment of the proposed project:
January 31, 2013
Ms. Muriel Kim
OEL-HydroSys P.O. Box 430 3108 Carp Road Ottawa, Ontario KOA 1L0
Mr. Ron Campbell
Enerdu Power Systems inc. 9094 Cavanagh Road Ashton ON KOA1BO
Ms. Kim and Mr. Campbell:
RE: Mississippi Mills Report on Proposed ENERDU Expansion Environmental Report
The Town of Mississippi Mills has prepared a comprehensive report in response to the Environmental Report which was prepared as required under the Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) for Waterpower Projects with regards to the proposed expansion of the Enerdu Generating Station. The report has been available for a 47-calendar day review period, from December 17, 2012, to February 1, 2013. In the preparation of its response, the Town gathered feedback during this period from various community stakeholders including Council, sub-committees of Council, public groups and municipal staff. in doing so, the Town was able to capture the concerns of the community and are submitting the following comments:
Enerdu Power Systems is proposing an expansion and redevelopment of its existing hydro electric facility located in the old Flour Mill in the Town of Mississippi Mills, formerly Town of Almonte. The property subject to the application is located at 11 Main Street, along the north shore of the Mississippi River in the north-eastern part of the Mississippi River.
The Wylie Flour Mill was built in 1842 and the basement of the building was subsequently developed into a power generation plant. The timing of the conversion has not been confirmed, but historical records discuss an operational power plant in 1905. Recently, the flour mill portion of the building (above the working power plant) was converted into upscale condominiums. The Environmental Assessment has identified the existing generating station as a “run-of-river” facility, which consists of a powerhouse and an overflow weir. The Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed project has been completed to assess the potential impact of the development on the natural and physical environment and to provide information to the applicant regarding development planning of the site, assess potential impacts and propose mitigation measures.
The EA was finalized by OEL-Hydrosys on behalf of the applicant in December 2012 and was provided to the Town at the end of December. The Town is requested to provide comments to the Applicant by February 1, 2013.
The expansion/redevelopment of the facility will be done in such a manner to allow the facility to continue to operate as a run-of-river facility. The project consists of two main components to increase the power generation of the facility from 300kW to approximately 950kW. The construction components include the following:
• Construction of an expanded powerhouse
• Redevelopment of the existing weir
The existing generating station consists of a powerhouse, which is located within the historic building envelope of the Wylie Flour Mill and an overflow weir. The new powerhouse will have an approximate area of 375m2 (15m by 25m) in size and will require the excavation of approximately 2,082m2 of bedrock upstream of the new weir and intake area.
The existing spillway weir consists of a rock and concrete foundation with removable wooden flashboards. The flashboards are an older technology which controls water levels by changing the position or presence of the boards in the area. This technology offers little flexibility in being able to control water levels in the river. The applicant is proposing that the wooden flashboards be removed and a mechanical weir, known as an Obermeyer gate, be installed to control the water levels with greater precision. lt is expected that this change will help maximize the potential power production.
A review of municipal information suggests that the owner/applicant owns not only the riparian land between the river and Main Street which supports the facility, but also much of the riverbed. However it is also understood that over the last year or so the Ministry of Natural Resources and the owner have had discussions regarding the ownership of the land within the riverbed. The ownership discussions of the lands subject to the development fall within three categories, being private ownership, potential land for quit claim and Crown lands (see attachment 1). Under quit claim, the lands that have been occupied by the structure can be claimed by the applicant provided that the structure had been supported by the lands for more than 60 years. The remaining lands would be considered Crown lands and the applicant would have to enter into a long term lease arrangement with the Crown. This would require the Crown to be part of any site plan control agreement.
Local heritage resources are an important feature of this community. While the subject lands are not a heritage property, there are many adjacent properties that are designated buildings. Furthermore the landscape vista along the Mississippi River creates an important identifiable characteristic of the community.
The local official plan recognizes the importance of heritage in the community and strives to enhance the value of historic resources. Given the importance of the heritage features in the community, the Town strives to protect and enhance buildings, structures, streetscapes and vistas that contribute to the local identity. Furthermore any new, redevelopment or infill development must be compatible with and sensitive to the character of the community. While the EA includes detailed plans associated with the site and associated engineering of the facility, the report does not include any architectural plans/rendering of the proposed building expansion that will show how the new building would be compatible with the character of the community. The applicant will have to show how the expansion will be compatible with the Wylie Flour Mill, the historic view and vistas associated with the river and architecture that defines the river. lt is important to note that the eventual development of the property will be subject to municipal site plan approval.
In reviewing the Environmental Assessment associated with the Enerdu project, it assessed a number of important environmental aspects, but does not specifically address the issue of heritage impacts. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport has offered to review the Environmental Assessment as it would apply to applicable heritage guidelines. The Town requests that the developer provide the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport the opportunity to review the EA.
It is acknowledged that lands surrounding waterways create a significant possibility of settlement area. Should any archaeological deposits or submerged cultural resources be discovered during excavation, it is requested that the Town’s Heritage Committee be informed about the findings and any subsequent reports.
Riverbed Excavation-River Aesthetics
The proposed redevelopment of the facility includes the excavation of approximately 2,082m2 of bedrock upstream of the new weir and intake area. The conceptual Engineering Design found in Annex 1 of the EA provides details on where the excavation of the riverbed is to occur (see attachment 2). lt would appear that the area of the bed identified for excavation is immediately abutting the weir and the intake area right by the falls. One of the most identifiable natural features of the community is the Almonte Ward Falls. It would appear that the removal of the bedrock could significantly impact the aesthetics of the falls (attachment 3). There are buildings and structures of historical significance to the municipality in the immediate vicinity of the excavation area. With the bedrock to be removed by either hoe- ramming or controlled explosions, there are concerns that this process will have structural impacts on the railway bridge which immediately abuts the area of excavation and the historic Old Town Hall located within approximately 60 metres of the area of excavation. It is requested that a structural assessment of these two structures be completed prior to any blasting or hoe-ramming to remove the bedrock.
Access over Municipal Lands
The development project has identified the possible need for two temporary access roads to facilitate the development of the project. One of the temporary access points that may be required is from the Old Town Hall lands on the south side of the Mississippi River. The applicant will have to request and acquire permission from the municipality to use these lands to gain access to the river. The applicant will also have to enter into an agreement that would not only permit the applicant access to the river over municipal property but also requires the applicant to repair any damaged property to its original state or better and pay the municipality for the use of these lands.
Construction and Scheduling
Festivals and events have an impact on local businesses and tourism in general. Many of these festivals and events occur during the summer time and early fall. It is acknowledged that the construction process will generate significant dust, noise, vibration and construction traffic may have a negative economic impact on local businesses and the community’s festivals. The extent of the impact can be minimized depending on the timing of when construction occurs. Ideally, completing the excavation during the fall season (September period) would have the least amount of impact on the festival/event season.
Appleton Wetland Impacts
The deteriorating Appleton Wetlands lie upstream currently from the subject property. While it is not clear why the wetland is dying off, the concern is that modifications to the existing weir system may challenge the wetlands even further and impact the ecosystem and habitat of the surrounding wetland. The municipality wants to ensure that water levels associated with the river be kept within the regulations of the Mississippi River Water Management Plan (2006) managed by the Mississippi Valley Conservation. Due to the concern with regard to the current undefined relationship between the river level which will be controlled by the proposed weir and the evident deterioration of the Appleton Wetland ANSI, the municipality wants to ensure that water levels associated with the river must be consistent with the regulations of the Mississippi River Water Management Plan (2006) managed by Mississippi Valley Conservation as amended from time to time due to environmental or other reasons.
Zone of Influence
The Enerdu Class Environmental Assessment has determined that the zone of influence is within 250m upstream of the project area. However on November 29″‘, 2012, the Mississippi Valley Conservation and the Steering Committee of the Mississippi River Water Management Plan reviewed the proposed Enerdu plan and based on the information provided to the Committee, it was concluded that the area of influence is not 250 metres upstream from the project, but rather extends the entirety of Reach 18 to the Village of Appleton, impacting a much greater area than suggested in the EA.
The area of influence reviewed as part of this EA should be extended upstream from the project area to the Village of Appleton to allow for a full detailed assessment of the impact of the project on the Mississippi River and the Appleton Wetland.
Gallagher Generating Station Impact
ln 2008, the municipality completed the construction of a new $19.0 million hydroelectric generation plant, known as the Gallagher Generating Station, located approximate 240m downstream from the proposed project site. With the proposed Enerdu hydroelectric plant influencing the flow of water, which is the key factor in generating electricity from the Town’s hydroelectric generating plant, the Environmental Assessment does not contain any consideration of impact of the controlled flow of water on the Gallagher Generating Station.
The Environmental Assessment has noted the owner’s riparian rights but does not speak to the riparian rights of others along the waterway, Under the riparian principle, all landowners whose property is adjoining a body of water have the right to make reasonable use of it. The project area immediately abuts a significant number of residential properties. Historically, many of these properties have utilized the shoreline and water for fishing and swimming purposes. lt is expected that the proposed changes to the river stemming from the Enerdu project will have an impact on the residents, as it states “the project area between the existing weir and trail race is unsafe for recreational use, access and fishing”, however the extent of the impact in unclear and requires clarification regarding riparian rights.
Power Plant Noise
The intent of the noise screening process is to assess noise emissions from any noise sources emitting from a facility and ensure that it will not exceed ministry noise guidelines at the closest Point of Reception. The Ministry of Environment guidelines typically requires 1000 metres of separation between a hydro generation facility and a residential development. ln reviewing the site and the surrounding properties, it is important to note first that the building that will be housing the up-graded power plant is currently a mixed used building which includes a number of residential apartments. Secondly, the project site is abuts a residential neighbourhood, in which the closest residential dwelling is only 55 metres away.
Contained in Appendix E of the Environmental Assessment, titled Noise Screening of the Environmental Assessment, the applicant has stated that the Point of Reception Acoustical Class has a class 1 rating. This results in the noise assessment being comparable to acoustical environment typical of a major population centre, where the background noise is dominated by the urban hum. With this project directly abutting a residential neighbourhood in a small rural town, referring noise levels to be comparable to a major urban centre is not reflective of the actual situation. Finally, the Environmental Assessment does not include any specific noise information to allow for a proper assessment on impact on the apartments in the project building or the neighbouring properties.
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These issues are very important to the municipality and the community as they could have a significant impact on the community. Throughout this process there has been a lack of information provided to the Town and its residents which has led to an inability to accurately assess the potential impacts of the development on the community. This information has been requested from the applicant, but as of yet has not been received. Before this application is approved by the Ministry of Environment, it is imperative that the applicant provide the requested additional information so that the true impact of the development can be determined. I trust this letter in a satisfactory form to accept as the Town’s comments. Should you require any clarification please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Stirling, Town Planner.
Stephen Stirling, MCIP RP Town Planner
cc. Hon. Jim Bradley, Minister of the Environment, 77 Wellesley Street West, 11th Floor, Ferguson Block, Toronto ON, M7A 2T5
Hon. Michael Gravelle, Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources, Suite 6630, 6th Floor, Whitney Block, 99 Wellesley Street West, Toronto, ON M7A 1W3
Ms. Doris Dumais, Director, Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, Ministry of the Environment, 2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12 A, Toronto, ON M4V 1L5
Sarah Nugent, Ministry of Natural Resources, 10 Campus Drive Post Bag 2002, Kemptville, ON KOG1W0
Mayor and Council – Town of Mississippi Mills
Diane Smithson, Town of Mississippi Mills CAO Heritage Committee, Town of Mississippi Mills
Beautification Committee, Town of Mississippi Mills
Community and Economic Development Committee, Town of Mississippi Mills
Editors Note: In a separate document, the Town requested a Part II order from the Minister of the Environment. Part 2 Order Request.Signed (1)