Cookstown watermain plans put on hold
By Chris Simon Innisfil Scope September 9 2010
Cookstown residents could be waiting awhile before a new watermain runs through their village.
Innisfil council will await the completion of a Master Servicing Study and Long Range Financial Strategy, before agreeing to help fund the construction of a proposed watermain, which would run from the Yonge Street and County Road 89 intersection into the village. However, council is open to the possibility of allowing the Cookstown Developers Group to install the watermain, if the organization is willing to pay for the entire cost of the multi-million dollar project.
In return, the town would agree to allocate 235 sanitary sewer service connections to the developers, said town engineer and infrastructure director Jim Zimmerman.
“A financial commitment for the watermain is premature, and therefore the town should not be committing these funds,” he said. “Should a development interest wish to proceed in advance of the study and strategy, the town should be supportive but clear that financial support cannot be committed at this time.”
The town has been in negotiations with the developers over the last few months, in an effort to secure front end financing of the watermain project. While the developers were prepared to proceed, they wanted the municipality to agree to pay back nearly $4.2 million by 2015.
The deal would have also given the group an advantage over other property owners, said councillor Lynn Dollin.
“The leftover capacity for people waiting for years would have been fairly diminished,” she said, during a council meeting last week. “It’s treating everyone equally unfairly. If (developers) don’t pay for the pipes, nobody’s getting anything. But what it leaves us with is approximately 74 units of infill, which is less than what we need. To make everyone happy, we’d need a couple hundred.”
The stance comes several months after the town hosted a public information centre on an Inflow and Infiltration Study for the village.
The study calls for about $635,000 in repairs to Cookstown sewage infrastructure, to fix several deficiencies. It also suggests the repairs could reduce the amount of illegal inflow into the municipal sewage treatment system by 70 cubic metres per day.
The system has the capacity to handle 825 cubic metres per day. Once the work is complete, the system could serve up to 326 new residential units. Of the sewer connections in the town’s proposed deal with developers, 188 units would be serviced through existing capacity, with the remaining 47 allocated once the inflow work is complete.
In a related recommendation, council asked staff to hold further public consultation over a draft sewer allocation policy for Cookstown, during a meeting last week.
“The town has come up with a way of trying to deliver this in a way so it’s fair for everyone,” said Dollin. “This is a complicated report … people will have a finite time to get their planning in order. It’s important to look after the people who have been waiting the longest. To bump (a developer) ahead of people who have been waiting 20 years is not fair.”
But the policy does attempt to provide the framework for distributing new sewer services as equally as possible, said Zimmerman.
“The Cookstown Waste Water Treatment Plant does not have sufficient capacity to service all of the potential development within the village,” he said. “Therefore, the town needs to provide a policy that establishes the priority for the allocation of the limited sanitary sewer capacity. The policy recognizes the existing planning approvals and the draft plan approved OPA 10 units, and provides these with a first opportunity to proceed. By recognizing these, the policy brings a fair approach to the allocation.”
Others agree with Dollin.
“It’s very important we look after our own residents,” said councillor Paul Wardlaw. “Some of these landowners are also business owners.”