Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Region takes second look at odour facility

Region takes second look at odour facility

AJ GROEN / METROLAND
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Jan 16, 2009 - 11:16 AM

BY REKA SZEKELY

DURHAM -- Region staff will take another look at a proposed sewage odour control facility (OCF) slated for Pickering after residents lobbied against the project.

The facility is part of the infrastructure necessary for an expansion of the York-Durham Sewage System, also known as the Big Pipe. A number of residents from the Cherrywood West subdivision in Pickering are upset because the OCF is to be located 300 metres south of their neighbourhood.

Their main concern is the potential smell if it doesn't function as well as engineers are predicting and the effect on their property values. They made their case to Pickering City Council, where they won support, and to the Region on Jan. 14.

"Potential buyers will figure out they would be living quite close to an odour control facility and who would want that?" said Grizelda Verbancic.

Pickering councillors Rick Johnson and Bonnie Littley shared the residents' concerns and Coun. Johnson asked staff to further investigate the facility, including the cost of locating it in York Region instead of Durham.

He said there are odour problems with an older OCF located in Pickering that also provides odour control for the Big Pipe. Region staff have said in the past that when it's working, there are no odours, but when the facility breaks down, there's no back-up system to prevent odours. The new facility would have such a system.

Still, Coun. Johnson said he doesn't blame residents for being skeptical that everything will work well.

"We have existing problems with the existing facility that's not been corrected and now we're moving on to another facility."

Coun. Littley echoed residents in suggesting the plant be built in York instead.

"It's their sewage and it's their pipe and it's their odour, so I think they should take it on their side."

John Presta, the Region's director of environmental services, said Pickering is technically the most practical place to put the OCF since that's where most of the odours will be generated because there will be drops in the pipes due to geography.

"Putting an odour-control facility up there in York doesn't make practical sense," he said. Presta noted, however, it would be technically possible to build it in York.

Devi Gopalan, who lives about three kilometres from the proposed OCF site, at the meeting said she doesn't feel like her concerns have been adequately addressed so far. She approved of the committee's action.

"I think it was amazing how the committee pushed for further answers."

York and Durham regions have already submitted the environmental assessment for the Big Pipe extension, including the OCF, and public comments on the EA are due Jan. 23. Works commissioner Cliff Curtis predicts since residents have expressed their opposition, the Ministry of the Environment will ask the two sides to sit down and try to work out a compromise.

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