I watched with hope for the Village as the Liberals unveiled their federal budget yesterday. The details are sketchy, however there is mention of green infrastructure grants for waste water treatment plants ($.50 from the municipality for each $1.00 from the government). MP Gord Brown is also working on our behalf to learn about the criteria and time lines. We will be awarding the contract for the detailed plans of the subsurface dispersal system to an engineering consulting company at our Council Meeting on April 4. The RFP has closed and a team of technical people are reviewing the submissions. The timing is good for us to make this grant application as we will soon be “shovel ready”.
Mr Bryce and I have concluded our meetings with the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. I would summarize their comments after hearing our appeal for this year’s OCIF 2 grant – that they have heard about our serious concerns and encouraged us to apply for OCIF 3 grant in April/May ($.90 for each $1.00) – there is no money left for this construction year. We were also encouraged to ask to carry over the remaining portion of our OCIF 1 grant into 2017 when we apply for OCIF 3. No promises were made, however we never heard the word “no” in regards to moving forward.
The warm weather this winter and equipment freeze ups have made it very difficult to process effluent at the WWTP. To date we have only processed a small amount of effluent and the lagoons are at 95.5% full. According to our processing schedule, the lagoons should be down to 75% by January 18. At Committee of the Whole on Monday night, we reviewed the activity from the previous 3 years at the WWTP and have serious concerns about the volume of effluent in the lagoons. One of the major issues is that the flows to the plant have been 2 1/2 times higher in December than in November. There is little doubt that sump pumps emptying into the system are partly to blame.
With the unpredictability of both the weather and our equipment, we made the decision to haul 10,000 cubic metres from the WWTP to Smiths Falls, beginning tomorrow (Wednesday). We simply could not risk another weather event like last week’s torrential rains. We will continue to process effluent at every opportunity.The cost of hauling is grant eligible from the money that we have received for remediation to the lagoons.
I will keep you updated on our progress throughout the winter. Please contact the Councillor of your choice or me (273-9195) if you have any questions.
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.
I joined Bob Perreault on Lake 88.1’sIn Focus to discuss the 2 million dollar grant Westport received for the snowfluent system, how we are prepared to move waste if needed, and what work is happening now at Town Hall for the spring.
“It sounds to me like for the first time in a little bit, the people of Westport get to look forward during the spring instead of just constantly checking over their shoulder.” — Bob Perreault
Thanks for listening if you caught the interview live! Otherwise,LISTEN HERE for the full 14 minute interview.
Thanks to Lake 88.1, especially Bob and his In Focus team.