Approvals delay mall completion
By Chad Ingram
Published June 16, 2016
The completion of a strip mall being constructed on the HP Superstore property at the intersection of Highway 35 and County Road 21 continues to be delayed as the owners await environmental compliance approval from the provincial government and approval from the Township of Minden Hills.
Tyler Peters, an engineer with Greenview Environmental Management, which has been hired by the property owners, made a delegation to Minden Hills council on June 9.
Initially scheduled for completion last year, the original design of the mall and parking lot was changed to comply with constraints from the Ministry of Transportation.
“Working within these design parameters, in concert with other requirements, Greenview has designed the new parking area to effectively drain in a southwesterly direction, to a single catch basin in the southwestern corner of the proposed parking lot,” a report from Peters read. “Further, existing drainage patterns within and adjacent to the existing MTO drainage corridor along Highway 35 have not been affected with the proposed design.”
While the building is now largely completed, the parking lot remains unfinished until final approvals from the province and the township are obtained.
The province has also required permission from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and while an application for an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) was submitted in early November of 2015, Peters told councillors last week that to date, the application had not been reviewed by the ministry.
“No one at the MOE in Toronto has even looked at the application,” Peters cold councillors.
The ministry told the Times earlier this week that the application is now under review.
“The ministry received the Environmental Compliance Approval application in November 2015 and is reviewing the application now,” spokesperson Gary Wheeler wrote in an email to the paper. “The time needed for a technical review depends on a number of factors such as, scope and technical complexity of the proposed works, number of applications under review, potential environmental and public health impacts, public interest, input from our Regional and District Offices. The ministry is working to provide a decision by the end of June.”
As for the township, there is disagreement between the firm and Minden Hills about the suitability of the design of the piping for the storm water management system.
“The design of the piped works between the catch basin and the Stormceptor unit is simply a function of the ideal location of the catch basin in the southwest corner of the proposed parking area for drainage across the entire western catchment area, and the uniaxial alignment of the inlet and outlet of the Stormceptor unit,” Peters’s report reads. “While we recognize that sharp bends in the piped works are not generally acceptable primarily for maintenance needs and to minimize the potential for pipe blockages, we have addressed this in the design with incorporating a series of minor bends in the piped section, which effectively result in a slow/long radius bend from the new catch basin’s outlet to in the inlet of the Stormceptor that can easily be inspected, maintained and serviced . . . “
Minden Hills planner Ian Clendening told council township staff disagreed on the acceptability of the piping’s design.
“The township staff and our peer reviewers have come to an impasse with regard to the proposed design,” Clendening said, adding that curved piping was not a best practice and township staff wanted to see a design with straightened pipes.
It’s a case of engineers with varying opinions and, “ultimately, it falls on council to make an informed decision,” Clendening said.
A redesign of the storm water system could mean the owners would lose their place in the queue with the MOECC, further delaying the process.
Council wants the mall completed, with Deputy-reeve Cheryl Murdoch saying it would be unfortunate for the property owners, who have clients waiting to move into the mall, to lose another summer of business.
“It’s a financial issue for our community,” said Councillor Pam Sayne, adding the township should contact the province about the delay in reviewing the ECA application. “Squeaky wheel.”
Clendening was instructed to contact the province and in the meantime, bylaw officer Colin McKnight was instructed to look into the possibility of providing a conditional occupancy permit that could at least get businesses into the mall for the summer.