I have attached the link to today’s page 3 article in the Kingston Whig. You will be aware of much of the information already. I note that while we are still waiting for Minister Leal’s office (Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs) to return our call in our quest for a meeting, a “spokesperson” from his office took the time and answered questions from the media in an email last night.
Specifically, the article states:
In an email Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for Leal said specific details about the village’s application are confidential.
“This year’s OCIF application-based intake was highly competitive. We recognize that there may be some disappointment in communities who were unsuccessful in their applications. The decisions to proceed with the successful applications were based on a robust, evidence-based process that relied on experts across government to assess the merits of each project,” the email continues.
The ministry spokesperson added Westport’s separate, formula-based OSIF allocations amount to $50,000 a year for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
To clarify for the spokesperson … We are not disappointed – we are shocked and feel abandoned. Our application was just that … evidence-based and supported with documentation by experts…
CAO Snider and I continue to push Queens Park and challenge the Ministers to hear our appeal. They have been invited to Westport in the past, and I restate that invitation. Perhaps being up close and personal to our lagoons will help them understand that our small rural municipality is not looking for a hand out, but the financial assistance that the provincial government has the ability and mandate to provide.
Here is the complete article
Since last Wednesday, many have inquired about who they should send their letters to complaining about Westport’s unsuccessful OCIF 3 grant application – money needed to help pay for the new waste water treatment plant.
My suggestion is to send your letters right to the Premier. She is on Facebook, Twitter and I am attaching the link for you to send her an email. https://correspondence.premier.gov.on.ca/en/feedback/default.aspx
If you are not sure what to say, you could consider including some of these points.
Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Westport is a Village in eastern Ontario with a population of 600 people. It is the smallest municipality in Ontario with both water and waste water systems. The waste water system is wholly inadequate to service the needs of the community due to climate change and aging infrastructure. Without being able to process effluent, thousands of litres has been hauled to a neighbouring community by truck over the past couple of years to a total cost of $800,000. The situation poses an environmental and public safety threat to the Village and surrounding community.
The Village needs the help of the provincial government to complete a project of this magnitude. To think that the Village’s small tax base can complete it on its own is unreasonable. Westport was turned down for an OCIF 2 grant and now for OCIF 3 as well. It is difficult to understand how this critical work to bring the Village into compliance with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is not a priority with your government.
Premier, what are you and your government going to do to help the Village of Westport?
To say that this decision is unfortunate, is an understatement. Staff are following up with the contact person mentioned in the letter below for the reasons why our application was not supported by the Ontario Liberal government.
CAO Paul Snider is contacting the offices of Minister J Leal and Minister B Mauro, the two Ministries involved in the decision making, and is requesting meetings between Mayor Jones and the Ministers.
Yes, this is a set back, however we will continue to work to resolve the challenges of our current waste water treatment system and together we will come through 2017 with a dependable solution.
I thought it would be interesting to everyone to read the letter, so please see it below.
If you have any questions, pls call the councillor of your choice or me – 9195
The Village has contracted our water and water water operations with Ontario Clean Water Agency. You may have seen their trucks at the water plant on Concession St today. With the court case just behind us and with a full understanding of the amount of regulatory compliance required for both the water and waste water systems, Council has made a decision to move in this direction. The short term contract duration of six months will permit Council to undertake a thorough review of service delivery options before embarking on a long term operations commitment.
Mr. David Wallond has worked for the Village as our water/waste water operator since January 2014 and we wish him the best of luck in the future.
In 2015, the Village and Clerk were each charged in 2015 with 2 counts in relation to the operation of the waste water treatment plant in the winter season of 2013/2014. Today, the Village pled guilty to one charge, failing to properly operate and maintain the sewage treatment plant. All other charges against the Village and Clerk were withdrawn.
Condition 6.1 of the ECA (certificate that authorizes use of waste water treatment plant) requires the Village to ensure that the sewage treatment plant and related equipment is properly operated and maintained, which is defined to include effective performance, adequate operator staffing and training.
Part of the evidence, agreed to by both the Crown Prosecutor and Village, read at court was, “The Village did not produce enough snowfluent in the 2013/14 season, demonstrating a lack of effective performance of the system. After the former operator was terminated, the Town hired another operator in early 2014. No back up operator was hired. The new operator had a pre-planned vacation prior to being hired and was therefore not available for two weeks in February, prime snowfluent generation season, and as a result, no snowfluent was produced during that period.”
Mayor and Council felt that it was in the best interest of the Village to accept the option to plead to this one charge and turn the page on that part of our history. The fine is $10,000 and the Village has 12 months to pay. The fine would have been substantially more if the Prosecutor hadn’t taken into consideration that the Village is replacing the aging system in 2017.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Councillor of your choice or me at 613-273-9195.