York Region’s sewage treatment plans may take longer to accomplish than expected.
As part of the Big Pipe extension, York Region has proposed that its sewage be piped to the treatment facility located just south of the Cherrywood West subdivision, near Altona Road and Concession 3 – in Pickering.
Pickering residents, calling themselves Stop the Stink, have opposed the plan. They say a proposed odour control facility (OCF) to treat won’t actually keep the odour away.
Pickering resident Peter Rodrigues believes the OCF will do the opposite of its intended purpose.
“They can’t point us to a single place in North America, nowhere, where they have this system in place where it doesn’t stink,” Rodrigues said.
Bill Mclean is regional councillor in Pickering. He says the case is simply that the odour-clearing fans are not a proven technology.
When visiting Edmonton with other members of the Stop the Stink group to investigate another OCF, Mclean was told there was no technology to blow the fumes uphill, which is now cited in the plans as possible. He called it a “recipe for disaster.”
Erin Mahoney, commissioner of Environmental Services for the Regional Municipality of York claims that there are successful OCFs in York Region. Mahoney cited the Peele location where they have received no complaints.
Mahoney also addressed the fact that the plans include extra features to make sure no serious issues with the OCF are left unattended.
“We have based the design … on technology that is proven to work and not only the technology itself, but the other enhancements … We have installed backup capacity for the treatment facility in case there are any issues,” Mahoney said.
The OFC is part of the Big Pipe expansion plans by the York-Durham Sewage System – in place to ensure water treatment keeps up with York Region’s urban growth.
The OFC filters and then releases air from the pipe that holds York’s raw sewage which travels to the treatment plant in Pickering.
Stop the Stink members are also upset that the OCF is to be built on valuable agriculture land, which the group says will cause health issues and devalue residences around it.
Stop the Stink member Rick Nicolussi said residents were not properly informed of the proposed plans.
“We only found out about it about a year (or) year and a half ago because they didn’t really publicize it enough,” he said. “Once we found out about it we put a little bit of political pressure on them and they finally had a meeting for the neighbourhood.”
Mahoney defended the sewage treatment plan by saying that Pickering had numerous opportunities to provide input to the environmental assessment.
“The province has agreed that … our consultation and public engagement plan met all provincial requirements,” Mahoney said.
Meanwhile, Pickering regional councillors passed a 23-0 motion to have the facility moved into York Region.
That prompted York to propose moving the odour control facility to the town line road on the Durham side. Then following the complaints, the York proposed moving it a couple feet onto the York side of the line.
Mahoney argued the region had originally moved it as far up the pipe as possible and to move it farther was just not practical.
“We are already incurring another $11 million to move it … into York Region,” Mahoney said.
Maurice Brenner, a member of Stop the Stink, said York Region is playing semantics.
The group is awaiting a decision by the Minister of Environment as to whether he will approve the environmental assessment of the facility submitted by York Region.