Originally published in the Wellington Advertiser on November 4, 2020.

Dear Editor:

The wastewater treatment plant has been on the table for as long as I have been the mayor of Erin.

I believe that now is the time to find a balance between responsible, thoughtful change and the maintenance of the rural roots that makes Erin such a special place to live. I believe now is the time to start thinking responsibly and to start investing in the future of our town.

Change can be hard. Let me explain why I think it is necessary.

First, I want to be very clear about the costs of undertaking this project. There are two components: the plant and the trunk sewer mains. The developers looking to build subdivisions in Erin will pay for the majority of the infrastructure in development areas. There will be no costs to rural residents.

While the exact cost to each household will be determined by the additional funding grants received by the federal and provincial governments, our commitment is to make this as affordable to residents as possible by financing the costs over a period of 10 to 15 years. Local residents will pay for the wasterwater mains which will run down existing streets and we expect these costs to be in the $15,000 to $18,000 range.

More importantly however, there are serious costs to not undertaking this project. The reality is, we are falling behind as a town of our size. Currently, we rely on aging septic tanks and systems that are costly to repair, harmful to the environment and outdated when compared to other towns across Ontario.

In practice, the lack of a wastewater treatment plant means that our main street businesses – the heart and soul of our town – will struggle to exist as the costs of pumping and trucking waste mounts. This also puts a halt on new business coming into Erin. It is crucial that we all understand the impact this will have on our ability to grow and prosper as a community.

The cost of not doing this project also means no new seniors homes for our elderly, and no new starter homes for our young families. It means we can’t build new subdivisions to support ourselves in similar ways other small communities near the GTA are.

The province has mandated that Wellington County grow to a minimum population of 160,000 from the current 90,000, by 2051 and Erin will have to take our fair share of this. This is growth that we need; we need the tax dollars to help us build our roads and bridges, and to replace or maintain the infrastructure we rely on every single day.

The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for growth during this challenging time requires us to think differently, to be bold and to take measured risks to support the future of Erin.

The cost of moving forward with the wastewater system is low because of strong partnerships with developers, however the cost of not introducing the system may have long-term impacts on our community’s future.

Allan Alls,
Mayor, Town of Erin