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
The ugly 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 31st 2008.

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.

 Bob McKinley