By Gord Whitehead, Special to the Times-Advocate
LAMBTON SHORES — Brent Kittmer’s request for direction seemed straightforward.
As one of Lambton Shores’ participants on the working group assigned to find a more ratepayer-affordable design for a Grand Bend area sewage treatment facility, the recently appointed community services director said in a report to his council’s June 4 meeting that members needed to provide direction on how forecasted sewage flows are to be accommodated.
The working group, which also involves South Huron, needs to know if a 20-year sewage flow estimate of 2,235 cubic metres per day cited in Lambton Shores’ sewage master plan and ESR (environmental assessment review) is to be used as the “first phase” flow or the facility’s “ultimate” flow, said Kittmer. If the original 20-year estimate is not to be used, a review will need to be conducted either internally by planning and community services staff or externally by a third party consultant, the community services director suggested.
As council’s political representative on the working group, Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Davis-Dagg made a motion that would direct staff to obtain quotes from engineering firms that would calculate graduated flows over a 20-year period.
Mayor Bill Weber snuffed out Davis-Dagg’s initiative by ruling that at least two-thirds of council would have to vote for reconsideration of a previously approved motion directing her “to work towards a sewage plant with a possible phased in approach within the existing flows and the parameters of the master plan and EA as it stands today so that we can maintain our funding from Build Canada.”
A motion to reconsider won the support of only three members and its defeat was followed by a break in council deliberations. Upon their return to the chambers, members moved on to another agenda item, leaving Kittmer’s request for direction unanswered.
A reporter’s notes and recollections were confirmed by clerk’s office administrative assistant Roberta Brandon who prepares meeting minutes.
“I agree council did not pass a resolution regarding the issue, so the report will go to the next council meeting for formal direction, along with the minutes that will show that no action was taken on the matter,” she told The Times-Advocate. “I would add that there will likely be further discussion regarding this issue at Tuesday’s (June 12) meeting when the Ad Hoc Sewage Advisory Committee Report is discussed.
Community services director Kittmer and Davis-Dagg have since told the T-A that they too expected further discussion of the issues at council’s meeting on Tuesday afternoon of this week.
“Discussion of the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendations at our Tuesday meeting will likely determine whether Zones 3 and 4 will be included in the first phase or not,” said the deputy mayor.
“ In contrast to the mayor’s insistence, I don’t believe the council’s discussion over hiring an engineer or determining what capacity is to be included in the first phase was a reconsideration of council’s earlier direction to stay within Lambton Shores’ capacity projections found in the Master Plan and Environmental Study Review,” said Davis-Dagg.
“We can stay within these general projections for the ultimate plans while realistically considering what flows we should expect in the next 20 years. There is no need to pay a disproportionate amount of the operating, capital and lifecycle costs in the next 20 years if they won’t be used. Determining realistic numbers is where an objective and independent engineer is essential.”
During the June 4 discussion, Kittmer was asked if Lambton Shores needs an engineer to do that.
“I think we can do it in house,” the community services director responded.
However he added, “This project is going to have a high level of scrutiny.”
The Lambton Shores-South Huron working group has a “very tight” timeline with a deadline of Aug. 31 for identifying and recommending a more economical alternative to previously considered $20 million to $26 million partial build and full build orbal treatment plants while meeting the qualification deadline for at least a hefty portion of committed federal-provincial funding through a Build Canada grant.
Lambton Shores and South Huron are sharing equally in a fee of $51,712 for Stantec Consulting to help the working group sort through technical data and alternative treatment technologies leading to a design to qualify for a previously committed $15 million dollar Build Canada grant.