ERIN, ON, April 18 /CNW/ - Erin, Ontario, the largest municipality in
the province with no sewage treatment plant, is the site of escalating
controversy in light of Town Council's proposal of mandatory hook-up to
the municipal water supply for a small group of households and
businesses located adjacent to Town water lines. Council is proposing
by-law amendments at a meeting Tuesday, April 19 that could force
approximately 100 homeowners to spend what the Town Water
Superintendent estimates to be between $13,000- $17,000 per household
to personally pay to decommission their wells and connect. The move is
intended to offset a deficit water management situation created over
the past several years.
"The only problem being addressed here is overspending of the Town's
water budget," said Howard McRae, a local resident championing fairness
on the issue of the water by-law. "Affected homeowners who responded to
a water survey conducted over the last few days indicate no existing
problems with water quality or quantity from their wells - so whose
agenda is this and why wasn't the issue raised during the recent
municipal election? And how fair is it for just 100 households to be
forced to bear the brunt of balancing the community's water budget?"
In an April 15th memo to Council from Frank Smedley, Water
Superintendent for the Town of Erin, revenue from the proposed hook-up
is projected at $601,028 collected from the 100 households. Also under
consideration by Council is a proposed water rate increase that would
impact existing and new system users and which would net another $1.1
million in revenue by the end of 2019, Smedley reports. Erin and
neighbouring Hillsburgh, also affected, are located northwest of
"In Hillsburgh there are a number of smaller homes occupied by
first-timebuyers like myself, and in this economy, we have no buffer to
pay for this," said homeowner Jaime Baker. "If these by-law amendments
go through, all the houses in my neighbourhood could be devalued and
young families might be unable to sell and could be forced to walk away
from their homes. This is a devastating possibility for everyone
A consulting report recently completed on behalf of the Town of Erin did
not advocate these measures, instead providing options for the Town to
balance the water budget within three years without putting onerous
pressure on residents. Another major Planning Report called SSMP which
will lay out the blueprint for the area, is due within months, and 90
percent of residents surveyed indicate they would like Council to wait
for that report before making by-law changes.
An editorial in the Erin Advocate of April 6 described the proposed
by-law change as "a draconian measure" given Council has proposed
withholding Building Permits for certain home improvements until
homeowners sign up. And once homeowners hook onto the system, they can
anticipate an estimated average spend of $1200 annually for the use of
Town water. Retirees in the area have expressed grave concern about the
sudden capital outlay and increased ongoing costs.
The Town of Erin has an ample and high-quality water source which
accounts for why the Town hasn't previously needed to adopt wide-scale
centralized sewage and water treatment to date. Ironically, the Town of
Erin itself has the best of both worlds because in addition to using
its own Municipal water, the Town draws on well water to service the
local hockey arena and water a downtown park.
"It seems to me that the Town is setting a poor example when one or more
of its own properties are serviced by both municipal water and a
private well," a resident's submission to Council states.
McRae added that since implementing a sewage treatment system may be
next, many think it would be preferable to hold off and install both
more waterlines and sewer pipes at the same time - which would be fair
to all residents and keep costs down through economies of scale and
potentially accessing government grants.
"Ratepayers here simply can't understand why the sudden urgency to push
through these amendments when the SSMP study will be completed within
months. It just doesn't make common sense - like putting the cart
before the horse," McRae said.
As many as 100 people are expected to turn out to express their opinions
to Town Council at the Tuesday meeting slated for 7:30 p.m. For details
go to www.erin.ca and for opinions on the matter, see radio broadcasters "The Motts" site
at www.themotts.ca (go to Sound Off tab).
SOURCE Erin Ratepayers
For further information:
Media Contact: Shelley Grandy, Sr. PR Advisor, Erin Ratepayers, 905-866-2656