On Friday, February 5, the Village of Westport was notified that its application for the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) Application Based Component was denied. This grant was an absolute necessity to complete the work at the waste water treatment plant and bring the municipality into compliance with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
It is difficult to comprehend how the Village’s application would not be reviewed, assessed and ranked at or near the top of the applicant lists due to the significant potential risks to the environment posed by the aging Snowfluent system and the Village’s severely limited tax base.
The Village is contacting Ministry staff for additional explanations and exploring all other possibilities for financing the refurbishment at the waste water treatment plant. This issue is on the Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda, being held on Tuesday, February 16 at 7:00 p.m.
If you have any questions, please contact the Councillor of your choice or me at 613-273-9195.
I have been asked by many people over the past couple of weeks what is happening with the Snowfluent system as they haven’t seen any evidence of snowmaking yet this year. Although yesterday and today are perfect snow making conditions, the plant has yet to process this year. Warm weather in December meant that the plant was not turned on. In order to operate the Snowfluent system, the temperature needs to be -5 C and wind at least 4 km/hr.
On December 31, when the system was being started up, a broken pipe in one of the effluent lines prevented its operation. The repairs to the pipe are expected to be made by the end of the day Tuesday. Adjustments were made to the plant today and I am hopeful that two towers will be operational tonight. The weather forecast indicates that the unseasonably warm weather returns on Wednesday.
The levels of the lagoons are monitored daily as well as the daily flows from the Village to the lagoons. The average flows in November were 220 m3, however alarmingly jumped to over 300 m3 in the latter part of December. Sump pumps that are connected to the waste water system are contributing to this increase. Please check to see where your sump pump dumps and ensure that it does not add to the lagoon levels. Council is introducing a water conservation programme this week in the Review Mirror by providing advice on how to reduce the amount of clean water flowing to the waste water system. Let’s work together to reduce the amount of unnecessary clean water being processed at the waste water plant by 10% this year.
Council met this afternoon to review the current situation. Our Councillors bring a wealth of experience to the discussions and each of them is committed to asking the right questions to ensure they get all of the information they need to make decisions. At the end of the meeting, Council is satisfied that monitoring the levels, flows and weather forecasts is sufficient at this point in time,. Just as a reminder, should it be necessary to haul effluent, there is a solid contingency plan that can be in place with 24 hours notice.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a Councillor of your choice or me.
It has been 6 months since the new Council began its term and I was sworn in as your Mayor. The new Committees of Council were established in February and by March meetings were taking place. Many residents of Westport are members of the committees and I expect amazing things to occur with their valued input and efforts. The Committee of the Whole is a new monthly meeting of Council, a little less formal than Council meetings and is generally the 4th Tuesday and yes, it is open to the public.
In regard to the waste water plant, I am happy to report that we did not need to transport any effluent this year. Although we had a winter of freezing nozzles and pipe breaks, we processed enough effluent that our lagoon levels were lower this spring than in 2014. We monitored the lagoon levels daily and had a contingency plan in place to transport effluent if the lagoon levels rose beyond predetermined levels during the winter. We are in the process of getting the summer application equipment set up and will be operating under a Ministry of the Environment Emergency Order again this year to lower the lagoons to where they need to be for next winter.
The Village is also moving forward in providing a climate-proof, dependable waste water system and one that will allow growth for the Village. The first step is a process called a Municipal Environment Assessment (MEA). This is a prescriptive process, which is led by an Engineering firm with the assistance of a technical steering committee, which includes several Village residents. The Project Coordinator reports to Council on the progress of the MEA at each Council meeting this year. Please consider joining us at Council meetings to hear what is being proposed.
Council worked with a consultant this winter and spring to develop a Village Strategic Plan, a first for Westport. Many members of the business community and public were interviewed by the consultant for their input. A strategic plan helps Council prioritize its goals in line with the budget. The final plan will be shared with Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 23 at 7:00 p.m.
Winter turned into spring slowly this year so our “Pulling Together in Westport” spring clean up was held on Saturday, May 9th. Over 40 community members volunteered their time, effort and rakes to get the Village ready for the May long week-end and summer. Thank you to everyone who helped out. Watch for this to repeat in 2016.
Recently, village residents Bob Scott and Mark Herlehy approached me with a proposal to help the arena. They had done a review of repairs and improvements that need to be done. The “wish list” was well thought out, however as the Village has many other pressures, there is only a small amount of money set aside in the budget for repairs to the community centre. And this is when Bob and Mark offered their suggestion, which I accepted!
Those now using the facility or who have fond memories of time spent on the ice or in the stands might consider becoming a “Friend of the Arena” by making a donation. Donations made to the Village of Westport for arena improvements qualify as gifts for income tax purposes and the Village would issue receipts. All donations will only be used for this purpose. For further information contact Mark Herlehy at firstname.lastname@example.org. or Frank Huth at email@example.com.
I hope you enjoy a long, hot summer and that you spend time with loved ones. As always, if you have any questions, please contact a Councillor or myself.