Environmental Defence letter on sewage called “libellous”
By Chris Simon Innisfil Scope September 9 2010
A letter from an environmental lobbyist regarding a proposed sewage treatment plant expansion is being dismissed as a ‘libelous’ and a ‘stall tactic’ by some town councillors.
Claire Malcolmson, a representative from Campaign Lake Simcoe and Environmental Defence, submitted a letter to the town recently, which made several recommendations on the proposed expansion of the Innisfil Sewage Treatment Plant.
According to Malcolmson, the town fails to adequately address phosphorous loading, water conservation, financing, technological and septic system concerns in the environmental assessment process that is currently underway.
“Notwithstanding our commitment to collaborate with the town in the best interests of the lake, we reserve the right to seek provincial intervention and a bump up of this project, to ensure the most rigorous assessment,” she said. “Water conservation is inadequately addressed. Until each sub-watershed and municipality affected by an expansion has a plan, it is premature to approve a phosphorous load increase. Innisfil’s (sub-watershed) plan is not complete, a factor that singularly warrants suspension of this EA.”
Proposed residential phosphorous levels should also be reduced, from 400 litres per day per person, to 210. That would match efficiency achieved in Guelph, though Canadians typically use about 329 litres per day, she said.
Councillor Bill Pring says the town should be considering legal action against the parties that wrote the letter.
“I find this letter libelous,” he said. “I suggest the town begin taking legal action against the authors. The multi-millionaires in Big Bay Point usually use their properties three to four months per years, (but) are dictating to 33,000 residents of the town.”
Others accuse Malcolmson of deliberately attempting to delay the expansion.
“It’s a lobby group sponsored by taxpayers’ money; (and) we have to spend taxpayers’ money to defend ourselves,” said councillor Bill Van Berkel, then taking a dig at fellow councillor and deputy mayoral candidate Dan Davidson’s involvement in Environmental Defence, and other lobbyist groups opposed to the Big Bay Point Resort. “It’s time to stop the special interest groups and the ‘Old Boys Club’ of Big Bay Point.”
Malcolmson says the EA is inappropriate at this time, since several opponents of the resort are still involved in legal battles with the developer, Kimvar Enterprises/Geranium Corporation.
“We are deeply concerned that this EA, and in particular the public consultation component, has been conducted under the chill of tens of millions in outstanding lawsuits against residents opposed to the resort,” she said. “Many residents affected may have felt threatened … and did not participate in the public consultation. Completing this EA under these circumstances is unacceptable.”
But Pring disagrees.
“We have a letter from a lawyer indicating there are no lawsuits proceeding between Kimvar and members of the (Innisfil District Association),” he said. “These delays have delayed over $2 million in new tax revenue to the town, plus a possible thousand jobs. This is a delaying tactic, and I find it very difficult to delay this for the sake of a few people.”
But everyone, regardless of affiliation, should have the opportunity to express their concerns over the proposed expansion, said councillor Lynn Dollin.
“An EA is an open public act. Anybody who wants to comment can,” she said. “I have full respect for whoever takes the time to sit down with our consultant and draft a correspondence. Yes, some things take longer, but I’d sooner have that than apathy.”
The letter has been submitted to the town’s legal counsel for review.