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 All other charges against the Village and Clerk were withdrawn.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.
Good news from Queen’s Park was received on Friday in relation to potential funding for the waste water treatment plant. The long awaited announcement arrived stating that applications for OCIF grants for 2017/18 could be submitted. Closing date for applications is 5 p.m on October 21, 2016. Decisions are made and municipalities notified in early February 2017.
The Village received a grant from OCIF in 2015/16 and this was the same grant fund that turned us down in 2016/17. I am optimistic that, after reviewing the criteria for this year’s (17/18) grant, Westport’s application should be accepted.
Thank you to everyone who wrote to the Minister. He and his staff discussed the Westport e-mails and letters – so your work was not in vain.
The meeting with Minister Duguid did not result in a commitment for any money as he said “there is no pot of money”. This week the Premier announced that in 2017/18, the amount of money for infrastructure would be doubled and that there is another intake for OCIF funding in April – but again, this is for 2017.
The Minister is aware that we will be using our existing OCIF grant money to cover the costs of hauling this year – an amount that could easily be $500,000. He sympathized.
Minister Duguid and his staff encouraged us to be “shovel ready” for the Federal grants, which should be announced in April. According to our schedule of events including the tendering process, we should be. The Minister did share with us that the province doesn’t know what the scope of those grants will be.
The final discussion with them was my request to keep whatever is remaining from our 2015/16 OCIF grant beyond December 2016 and use it in 2017 with that year’s grant. Normally , this is not approved by government – but as the Minister said, due to our “unique” situation, he and his staff will see what they can do.
The Minister was a real gentleman – and although we did not make any headway in $$$ – I felt that he listened to our situation.
I am still waiting to confirm dates/times for meetings with the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and with the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Thank you everyone for your support and comments. We are not finished in our quest by a long shot!
Thank you to everyone who sent an email or letter to Minister Duguid requesting consideration for the OCIF grant from the Village. The Minister has scheduled a meeting with me next week. If you haven’t sent your email yet, please follow through as your concerns need to be heard by the Minister.
I would appreciate having a copy of all your emails/letters as I intend to have them with me at the meeting – so please send them to me if you haven’t already done so.
When the grant was turned down on February 5th, I also sent letters to the Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. These three ministries and the Ministry of Infrastructure are the four that overlap in their responsibilities for the municipality.
Glenn Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs have committed to meeting with me – those dates are still being arranged.
I will take with me into the meetings the knowledge that the thoughts and needs of all 672 residents and those who work and play in the Village are with me. Westport has such a strong spirit. I am proud to be your Mayor.
We have an amazing MPP. Steve Clarke has been working on our behalf since hearing this news on Monday.
Many people have asked me what they can do to help. You can write or email the Minister ultimately responsible for infrastructure in the province of Ontario.
Minister Brad Duguid
Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure
8th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2E1
Thanks everyone. We will continue to explore all avenues. Your comments and support over the past couple of days are very much appreciated.