Work on Grand Bend sewage treatment plan grinds to a halt while waiting for approvals

Work on the Grand Bend sewage treatment plant is at a standstill as officials wait for approvals from the Ministry of the Environment.

And the delays have Lambton Shores staff concerned that they may not be able to meet the timeline on $15 million worth of grants if the approvals aren’t given soon.

The controversial plant was scaled down by Lambton Shores council last summer. It had already gone through an Environmental Assessment, but because the size of the plant changed, more public input was sought.

Seventeen people, 15 from Lambton Shores and two from South Huron, filed objections to the project. The Ministry of the Environment has been reviewing the concerns since November.

Brent Kittmer, director of community services in Lambton Shores, is overseeing the project. He is in constant contact with the MOE, but officials have been less than forthcoming on when the review of the objections will be complete. “They’ve basically said, ‘we’ll tell you when we tell you,’” says Kittmer. And that’s causing some headaches.

Timing is critical. Lambton Shores and its partners, South Huron and Bluewater, have been granted $15 million to build the $21 million plant but have to have the project complete by March 2016. Kittmer says the timeline was already short and now the delays with MOE approval are causing concerns.

“Our drop-dead date to solicit the engineering work has been the end of March,” he says.

If the Ministry of the Environment rules there should be further review of the project because of the objections that could delay work another three to four months, says Kittmer.

Kittmer says the municipality could shorten the timeline for construction to meet the requirements of the funding, but adds usually construction projects take longer than projected, not shorter.

And there is another glitch; Build Canada, the group funding the project, has yet to say it will fund the scaled down version of the plant.

Kittmer says he’s told the MOE of the time constraints around the project and now all the municipality can do is wait until the environmental review is complete.

Lambton Shores councilors will be asking the joint sewage treatment board Friday to press the Ministry of the Environment for answers.

– Heather Wright