POWASSAN – Council is still pushing for the removal of Trout Creek’s designation as a significant threat to source drinking water.
“I’m trying not to jinx it, but I really felt the Minister was listening,” said Coun. Todd White. “He was very inquisitive and he seemed sympathetic to our plight.”
Council requested a meeting with the Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley, during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference this month to discuss the removal of Trout Creek’s well cluster from the list of possible “significant threats” to source drinking water, as identified by the North Bay-Mattawa Source Water Protection committee.
If the well cluster is not removed, 242 septic systems located in Trout Creek are subject to mandatory re-inspection at a cost of between $215 to $250, per system, every five years.
During the conference, which took place at the Ottawa Convention Centre from Aug. 19 through 22, councillors White and Nancy Barner, and Mayor Peter McIsaac met with Bradley, along with senior staff members, regarding the request to have the designation removed.
“I’m hoping there will be some kind of solution,” explained White. “We don’t want to ignore any environmental issues, but there hasn’t been any proof that these systems pose any threat.”
Mayor McIsaac said he also felt optimistic about the outcome.
“I do not think the meeting could have been any better,” said McIsaac. “I feel we made a strong case in describing our concerns regarding what we see as an issue of fairness.”
In the 1980s there was a Provincial rehabilitation program in Trout Creek through which private homeowners had their individual household wells converted from dug to drilled wells in order to avoid contamination. The inclusion of the systems in the North Bay-Mattawa Source Water Protection study was a voluntary action made by the previous council.
“We had a very long and positive discussion,” said McIsaac. “The Minister extended the discussion well beyond the time allotted for our delegation… (It) was exactly what we had requested, a positive meaningful discussion with the Minister on this very important matter.”
Council had a full itinerary while attending the conference.
Earlier that day, the council members met with staff from the Ministry of Northern Development Mines and Forestry along with MPP Bill Mauro, who was representing Minister Bartolucci.
The meeting was set up to discuss upgrades to the Trout Creek Community Center, which are now required under the Ontario Fire Code.
White said the Municipality had an engineer and architect look over the building and create a wish-list of sorts. The price tag is expected to come in around the $200,000 mark. Council is looking for funding to cover the cost.
“We’re still exploring options on how to go about it, but we will eventually need to make the upgrades,” said White. “We’re trying to get all of our professional buildings up to present standards, but we have lots of time to do it.”
During the conference, the council members also met with the Minister of Community and Social Services John Milloy and his senior staff.
“We gave a presentation that highlighted the municipalities long term plan to address some remaining accessibility issues with our own municipal buildings. One of the priorities being an elevator installed at the Powassan Sportsplex to make the hall accessible to everyone,” explained McIsaac.
During the meeting, it was explained there would be accessibility funding made available shortly.
According to White, the Municipality was sent an application for funding for the project through the Enabling Accessibility Fund following the conference.