A controversial sewage pumping station, slated to be constructed on picturesque Cedar Island Road, was approved by council committee Monday.
Despite that, it may end up being built elsewhere.
Council committee’s green light gives the go-ahead for much more than the pumping station; it allows the city to publish the environmental study report for the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment for the Centennial Drive area improvements.
“This … is not intended to deal with the location of the sewage pumping station as council has already provided direction with respect to where this station is to be located,” noted Coun. Jeff Clark. “It is my understanding that two members of council are seeking a reconsideration of the location of the pump station at the (Thursday) meeting.”
Coun. Ted Emond urged his colleagues to push forward with approving the station Monday – one part of a much boader initiative – to keep the overall project, the improvements to Centennial Drive, moving forward.
“I believe it’s important for us to continue the process on the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment and we need to publish this report and do that because there are many other aspects to the Centennial Drive project besides the pumping station and I’d hate to see a delay occur while we were to address that,” said Emond.
“I’m also confident my colleagues will come forward with an option to consider a reconsideration on the location,” he said. “Since the actual construction of that component is several years off, I believe there may be time between now and then to address the location if that is something this council wishes to do Thursday.”
Council committee on Monday did support the Cedar Island pumping station – with a number of changes to the original plan.
Project engineer Stan Martinello reviewed the process that led to council choosing the Cedar Island Road location. He said in November of 2017, staff pitched two different sites – both on city-owned land. One site was Cedar Island Road; the other was next to the existing 85-year-old station at the intersection of Elgin and Scott streets.
Martinello noted the Cedar Island Road location was chosen by council in January. Four months later, in May, at a public information centre, various design options were presented.
“That generated numerous public comments opposed to the site,” said Martinello. His report to council committee Monday outlined “how those concerns could be addressed.”
Principally, staff recommended an exterior generator be incorporated – adding about $100,000 to the $4-million project – and an emergency storage holding tank be added.
“I hope (this) will be seen by the residents in the area as the city’s willingness to mediate potential concerns they have raised by adding the diesel generator and emergency holding tank,” said Emond.
Coun. Tim Lauer said some residents also had concerns about the quality of the land where the pumping station would be built.
“There is peat in that area which is soft ground,” noted Martinello. “We acknowledge that.”
But what he could not do was give council an estimate as to what that might mean to construction costs. “It would add cost if we went with piles opposed to spread footing,” he said, but noted they are “not at that stage” where costs have been determined.
Responding to a question about potential noise from the diesel generator, Martinello stressed the generator would only run during an emergency and during testing; he compared the noise level to that of a vacuum cleaner.
Some residents, however, were not impressed. Tom Griffiths used the open public forum of the meeting to express the concerns of some of the neighbouring residents.
He said, for example, staff’s plans to plant trees to make the building more pleasing to the eye could create safety issues for pedestrians and motorists in the area.
Griffiths said residents are also upset about the potential construction timelines. Griffiths noted the staff report explains how a section of the sewer will have to be replaced when the current sewage pumping station is abandoned. That will “require disturbing and restoring the road surface” on that section of Elgin Street.
“So, in addition to having to deal with lengthy and complicated construction of this station, we have to put up with tearing up Elgin Street for sewer replacement,” said Griffiths, who also noted “it does not appear this is included in the project cost estimate.”
Council committee ultimately endorsed the new pumping station Monday. That decision must be ratified at Thursday’s meeting of city council.