Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Letter: Beaver Mines wastewater gong show chapter 17.5

Cornell Van Ryk - I offer my perspective on the M.D. Council Meeting of Nov. 28, 2017. Those following my letters will recognize my tone is getting more cynical and critical as I continue to follow this gong show. My advisors have urged me to tone it down. This is the toned down version, and the best I could do.

Council was presented with many letters in opposition to the current direction. They are worth reading and can be found on the M.D. website in the agenda package for the meeting. All were well done and some very good scientific information was provided to back up the opposition. People put in a lot of effort. Council chose to “receive as information” all the letters (which is a euphemism for “file them away somewhere / anywhere because we just want to press forward”). Submitters will get a nice letter in the mail thanking them for taking the time to input to Council.

Included was my letter dealing with the stalemate within Council as detailed in Chapter 17. It received some attention, with Councillor Everts attempting to foster discussion but in the end, she was the only one that had much to say and this letter too, was “received as information”. The stalemate continues.

Councillor Lemire continues to not participate in any discussion concerning this project and even left the room during the Public Hearings regarding two road allowance closures. More than 50% of the MD’s budget is spent on roads and one wonders if he will recuse from all discussion involving roads. There appears to be a money saving opportunity if his per diem is reduced by the % time he spends away from the table. He did, however, present an issue regarding the need to increase security in the M.D. building in order to protect property and employees. This is very timely, given the large number of disgruntled ratepayers who are getting frustrated with unresolved issues like sewage lagoons, fire response, water supply, potential incinerator odour, Fire Halls, etc.

It’s interesting to note that one of the Public Hearings on road allowance closures was driven by the need to situate a pump house for the Beaver Mines potable water pipeline. The pipeline is under construction (pipe in the ground) heading for this location and the public is NOW being asked for comment. Fortunately, no one spoke in opposition.

The Mill Creek lagoon project continues to plod ahead. In his report, the Director of Operations (the DOO) informed Council that bore holes at the site failed to achieve target depth because they encountered boulders. They were moving on to dig test holes with an excavator. He continues to be unclear as to the next steps in the Historical Resources Impact Assessment. He also failed to provide the promised list of all required assessments or any indication of how much these would cost or how long they would take. He likely feels that, like many other Council requests for information, if ignored it will go away and Council will proceed anyway.

When sitting back and listening to the DOO speak of this project, one cannot help but feel some empathy. He is set up to fail. In my experience, the private sector would never attempt to implement a >$25 million project, particularly one as controversial as this one, without a full-time experienced Project Manager. Even though he seems sufficiently challenged in his regular role and has little or no project management experience, the DOO is also expected to manage this project along with his regular duties.

The only bright note is that Council agreed to gain clarity around the funding for the project. They are unclear whether grant funding is available if they end up forced to pursue an option other than the Mill Creek lagoon. The lights may be coming on, but somehow, after once again listening to a Councillor argue that sewage lagoons do not stink, I have my doubts.

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