To Deputy City Manager Richard Hewitt:
"It's about time the
ugly truth about Manotick's
servicing history got to the public..."
-Bob McKinley, Past President of the Rural
Council of Ottawa-Carleton.
The Village Speaks #40– March 19/08
An open letter from Bob McKinley
truth about Manotick’s central servicing history
As you may be aware,
the WMCA has been an active proponent of alternative servicing
options for the wastewater issues in Hillside Gardens and the
village core. We have actively investigated alternative
technologies that could provide a viable solution for our village
woes. We are aware of one such solution being pitched to the city
that would clean up village sewage problems with the added benefit
of a much lower cost to all taxpayers and with a significant
reduction in disruption to individual properties, business
activities in the core and our village streets.
WMCA members have shown interest in the servicing debate, with
opinions on both sides of the coin. We forward for your information
the following open letter from Bob McKinley, Vice-President of the
Rural Council, to the Mayor and others. Mr. McKinley has done
extensive research into the issues, and here he presents a valid
case for the City to continue its investigation of alternative
servicing options for Manotick’s problem.
West Manotick Community Association
Dear Mayor O'Brien
This is an open letter I will be distributing to members of Council,
the public and the media. I look forward to your reply.
It's about time the ugly truth about Manotick's servicing history
got to the public and City Council before they are asked to waste
another $ 75 million dollars of taxpayer's money. Thirty Million
will be sought as the next instalment when Agriculture and Rural
Affairs Committee receive recommendations from City staff on March
Deputy City Manager Richard Hewitt will put his name on the
recommendation. Mr Hewitt and his crew are the same brilliant minds
who stood behind the Munster force main, a multi million-dollar
boondoggle that polluted the air in Richmond Village so badly that
the City were convicted and fined in criminal court by Ontario's
Ministry of the Environment. Ottawa's Auditor General shredded the
staff's contention that a central sewer through Richmond was more
cost effective than site treatment options available at a fraction
of the cost. Undaunted by prosecution, conviction, and the waste of
upwards of $25 million Mr. Hewitt is poised to make Manotick his
next victim. This time, however, he better be ready to face some
tough questions from Councillors and community leaders who refuse to
be fooled again.
Central to the debate is the contest between old and modern
technology used for sewage treatment. Mr. Hewitt will argue that the
"Big Pipe" is the only viable servicing option for Manotick.
Fortunately for taxpayers there is clear evidence that he can no
longer support his position.
During the late 1990's the Province of Ontario sought out innovative
ways to promote housing for seniors in rural areas. Pre-Amalgamated
Manotick was eligible for the programme but could not proceed
without a sewage treatment facility. Regional Chair of the day,
Peter Clark, saw the light and committed the Regional Municipality
to a contract to build the site treatment plant now in use and
serving Village Walk.
Armed with a sewage treatment commitment the developer pre-sold over
50% of the units to buyers eager to spend their retirement in a new
village facility designed and built for them. Rideau Township gave
the site its blessing and construction of buildings advanced to a
point that the project's mortgage lender invested $3 million
dollars. What could go wrong? True to form Regional staff refused to
fulfil their end of the bargain in a timely way and construction was
put on hold. Eventually nervous purchasers asked for the return of
their deposits, the developer went broke, and the mortgage holder
sold the lands recovering less than 20 % if their investment.
The new landowner scraped plans for a senior's project and
demolished the partially completed buildings. The Region now faced
litigation from the lender and the contractor engaged to build the
site treatment facility. $3 million went up in smoke.
One might hope the story would end there. Not so!!
The Region recommitted to build the identical sewage treatment plant
for the new owner but this time with a twist. The new plant was
designed to be destroyed when central sewers were brought to the
Village-another $ 3 million up in smoke! For those keeping score
we're now at $ 6 million on our way to over $ 80 Million.
Manotick's Hillside Gardens contains 217 sites. City Staff have
recently identified the redevelopment potential for the Core
following sewers to be a mere 80 new units. No other parts of the
Village need sewers and Minto's plans to scrap the Village Secondary
Plan was overwhelmingly rejected by City Council. Can someone please
tell us who is going to pick up the tab?
The treatment plant now functioning in Village Walk serves 72
homeowners, the effluent discharged after treatment is so pure that
it actually dilutes the pollution levels in the Rideau River.
An independent study recently commissioned by the plant builder
demonstrates that it is running at about 16% of it capacity and is
therefore capable of receiving additional sewage from the Mews, a
new seniors residence, and Main street's commercial core at a tiny
fraction of the cost of a central sewer. The same technology can be
implemented in Hillside Gardens without the need to destroy its
streets and tear up every owners' landscaping. The size of the
proposed cure far exceeds the size of the problem.
Staff would have you believe that past studies don't support the use
of modern site treatment options. They do so based upon studies done
more than a decade ago and in the face of their approval and support
for site sewage treatment for the Carp Airport expansion? Sorry that
dog don't hunt!
Technology is the product of necessity and Ottawa's huge capital
fund deficit compels us to exercise fiscal responsibility when ever
possible. Senior staff and members of Council who don't understand
that can't contribute to a new vision for Ottawa.