By Chad Ingram
The recent approval by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change of a sewage-spreading field near Maple Lake has highlighted a glaring and ridiculous gap in the province’s approval process for such waste disposal sites that needs to be remedied.
As most readers will be aware, in mid-September, the ministry granted certification for a septic pumping company to commence field spreading on about two acres of a 96-acre property near Maple Lake in Algonquin Highlands.
The site is about a kilometre from the lake, as well as numerous residences.
A week after the approval was granted, the operator of the site was fined by the ministry after residents downwind of the field got a whiff of something fresh, violating one of the many conditions set out by the province.
The number of stringent restrictions the ministry has placed on the site should be evidence enough that it is not a suitable location for this type of land use to begin with.
Local residents could have told the province that, had they been given any opportunity whatsoever to do so.
The approval process for the site required no public input, or even notification.
Nor did it require any approval from Algonquin Highlands council.
This is total crap.
Municipalities are legislatively required to conduct public meetings on many land use and planning matters.
Land use decisions are, after all, one of the chief functions of municipal government and it’s common for local council meetings to be preceded by such public meetings.
Often, they unfold with little input, but we all sit and listen as the reeves follow the legislation, asking once, twice, three times if anyone is present to speak for or against the issue at hand.
When a telecommunications company wants to erect a tower, it’s required to notify residents within certain proximity and to come before council to seek a support resolution, even though the ultimate authority in such cases lies with the federal government.
Diddo with solar projects, ultimate approval there lying with the province.
And yet the spreading of sewage on the earth seemingly requires no public input at all.
Spreading fields, while perhaps archaic, are required in rural communities. A number of them exist within Haliburton County and seem to operate with no blowback, since they are located a sufficient distance from people’s homes.
However, their establishment should not only require public input, but resolutions from local councils as well.
This is a hole the province needs to clean up.