LAMBTON SHORES — One of those rare sudden developments has occurred again on the long, slow, costly road to filling the Grand Bend area's future sewage treatment needs.
What began in late February as a Lambton Shores-only oversight committee seems destined to become during March a bi-municipal 'working group' with full involvement of sewage board partner South Huron. The assignment is the same — waste no time finding a treatment solution that is less expensive than the now rejected $20 million to $26 million orbal sewage plants while meeting the qualification deadline for at least a hefty portion of committed federal-provincial funding through a Building Canada grant.
Lambton Shores' oversight committee chairperson, Ward Two Coun. Doug Bonesteel, introduced the 'sudden' turn of events as recently arrived director of community services Brent Kittmer was to present his first report on the committee's mandate.
“I spoke with the mayor of South Huron and (environmental services director) Don Giberson and they have asked about rolling the oversight committee into a committee of the sewage board; into a bi-municipal sewage group,” said Bonesteel.
“The mayor of South Huron (George Robertson) has asked for a meeting of the sewage board to see how we go forward,” added Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber. “This will go from an oversight committee into a working group.”
As its current chairperson, Weber has called a meeting of Grand Bend Area Sewage Treatment Board for 9 a.m. Thurs., March 15 in Thedford Village Complex. The agenda's new business item simply states, “Discussion regarding the proposed Grand Bend Sewage Treatment Facility project and how to proceed with the project from here.”
Bonesteel told his council's March session, “It's going to be a very tight timeline.” He assured his fellow members the mandate of a bi-municipal working group would information gathering rather than decision making.
Bonesteel said questions posed in Kittmer's oversight committee report would be answered by the Lambton Shores-South Huron group. Council passed a motion to receive and file Kittmer's report and a second motion, “To move forward with the bi-municipal working group.”
Reacting to the South Huron officials' dialogue with Bonesteel and Weber, Ward Five Coun. Martin Underwood commented, “If this doesn't show healing and good faith, I don't know what does.”
He was referring to council's previous meeting (as reported in the Feb. 29 Times-Advocate) at which Ward Four Coun. Ruth Illman stated, “We have started to heal around this table. We have to do some healing with South Huron and Bluewater. We have got to stop the brinkmanship.”
Following are the Lambton Shores community services director's questions which will be redirected from his council to a bi-municipal working group:
• Does council wish to ensure that the alternative selected will qualify for the BCF (Building Canada Fund) grant?
• What level of wastewater treatment should the alternative accomplish? (OMAFRA has indicated that to remain within the scope of the funding application any proposed alternative should be able to achieve a tertiary level of treatment).
• What effluent quality criteria are to be achieved? Does council want to use those criteria established by the 2009 environmental study report?
• What treatment capacity should the alternative be able to achieve?
• Is it council's goal to provide capacity for growth in the EA (environmental assessment) study area?
• Should the alternative be able to achieve 4,659 cubic metres/day which is the future need identified in the master plan?
Kittmer also comments in his report, “The timeline to complete the work represents a significant constraint to the process. The Building Canada funding expires on March 31, 2016, and this date represents the last date by which claims for expenses are to be submitted. To ensure that the funding is maximized it is advisable that construction work be completed by Oct. 31, 2015 to ensure that miscellaneous invoices are received prior to the funding deadline.”