Sewage talks remain a messy situation in north Simcoe as a requested one-year extension by Midland’s neighbouring municipalities was denied; and Tay Township isn’t keen to play clean up.

At the recent committee of the whole meeting, an operational services report provided staff insight into the request and denial from earlier this month.

In late 2023, Midland had decided to stop accepting septage from external municipalities after a report stated between 2017 through 2022 the town only contributed 12 per cent of loads, with the remainder made up between Tiny Township (59 per cent), Tay (15 per cent), Penetanguishene (10 per cent), and Elmvale (4 per cent). Tay hosts two wastewater treatment facilities within their township, in Port McNicoll and Victoria Harbour.

Tay, Tiny and Penetanguishene were jointly granted an extension until June 6 to allow a transition period, but as the deadline loomed another request was made for a one-year extension until June 2025.

Through a letter by Midland environment and infrastructure executive director John Thompson, the extension request was denied citing upgrade costs estimated at $3 million on the shoulders of Midland ratepayers as taking precedent over the need to handle external septage. Additionally, Thompson provided a list of 32 reasons why external septage and/or hauled sewage couldn’t be accepted.

Coun. Gerard LaChapelle sympathized with operational services general manager Shawn Berriault, as per challenges ahead.

“Is there an appetite that the other three remaining municipalities will also seek some guidance from Simcoe County?” LaChapelle asked Berriault. “At some point, this is going to have to become a central operation. We, as an individual (municipality), can’t ever afford to create some kind of storage facility means in our plant. It’s expensive as it is now.”

Berriault responded that the municipalities would meet to figure it out, referencing a county wastewater study completed prior to the pandemic.

Deputy Mayor Norris was more direct, claiming: “It’s unfortunate the MECP (Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks) haven’t done anything for the last 40 years to curtail this whole thing.”

That response raised smiles among some in attendance.

Norris also took issue with Thompson’s response noting the ‘makeshift or jerry-rigged modifications’ implemented at the Midland plant over the years to handle hauled waste, and when he pointed out Midland’s request to have the neighbouring municipalities help fund the plant’s upgrades, Norris offered a firm no.

However, Coun. Paul Raymond and LaChapelle quickly asked if Norris would sit on the matter and wait for consultation with the other municipalities before such a decision.

Said LaChapelle: “I hate to close the door at this point. I agree with you about (not) supporting, because we’re probably talking about a lot of money. A lot of money. But I’d rather until the three municipalities can come together and give us some insight where we can go with this before you make that suggestion.”

In return, Norris staked to the amusement of staff: “I have no problem. I won’t be changing my mind, let’s put it that way.”

Raymond agreed that more information was required, and said, “I feel the same way personally as you do; I’m sure most people see this as a really tough situation.”

The septage receiving response, correspondence between the north Simcoe municipalities, and list of 32 reasons can be found in the agenda page on the Tay Township website.

Tay council meets for committee of the whole meetings every second Wednesday of the month, and regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Archives and livestreams of council meetings are available through the Tay Township YouTube channel.

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 13, 2024 at 12:18

This item reprinted with permission from   Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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