Settlement reached on spreading field
It seems the issue of a sewage spreading field near Maple Lake in Algonquin Highlands has reached a final conclusion.
As reported previously in the Times, last fall, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change denied an application for the expansion of the spreading field operated by Highlands Septic Pumping, and also approval for the continued operation of the site, located about a kilometre from Maple Lake.
The company appealed that decision to the Environmental Review Tribunal, and through a mediation process, the involved parties came to an agreement last month. The site will operate for two more seasons, and then be closed, pending a final decision by the tribunal which is to be released before the end of April.
“The company’s owner, the municipality and the ministry reached a mediated settlement in March,” David Bradley, manager of the Peterborough district of the MOECC, wrote in an email to the paper. “Under the terms of the settlement, the disposal site would be extended for two years, to the end of the 2019 spreading season. The site would not be used after 2019.”
"The draft Environmental Compliance Approval has various enhanced operational conditions and monitoring requirements to prevent contaminants from running off-site and impacting nearby surface water," Bradley wrote.
Algonquin Highlands issued a release saying council accepted the terms of the settlement.
“The township obtained party status to the proceedings and participated in the required mediation prior to the formal hearing,” reads the release. “From the beginning the ERT made it very clear that planning matters were not to be considered in this appeal so there was very little opportunity for the township to contribute.”
While the use of the property for the purpose of spreading is not permitted under the township’s zoning bylaw, the municipality’s bylaw was ultimately trumped by the provincial approval for the operation of the site.
“Settlement discussions continued following mediation involving surface water scientists and hydrogeologists and once a tentative settlement was reached, MOECC held a special meeting with the participants (representatives of the Maple, Beech and Cameron Lakes Area Property Owners’ Association and a local group of concerned and impacted residents called Our Grandchildren Matter Too) to explain the proposed settlement,” the release reads.
“Although the township was ultimately unable to play an active role in the process, council has accepted that the settlement agreement with increased, more stringent conditions and a definitive end to the site’s use is the best solution for the Township of Algonquin Highlands, its ratepayers and the property owner,” the release continues.
The site has been in operation since 2015.