North Dundas running out of water and sewage capacity

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    by Joselyn Morley

    The Council of the Township of North Dundas held their regular bi-monthly meeting on October 26. North Dundas has officially run out of water and sewer units to allocate for builds.

    It’s been coming for a while, so it’s no surprise, but there was a kind of ominous feeling of heaviness, as the councillors and Calvin Pol, Director of Planning Building and Enforcement, faced each other around the table.

    Calvin Pol put voice to what we’ve all been waiting to hear regarding water and sewer allocation: “We’re down to the final numbers, as far as what’s available. We have four requests, which is beyond what we have available right now.

    A total of six extra [water & sewer] units are being requested than what is currently available in the total supply that we have calculated back at the beginning of the year.”

    North Dundas has experienced unprecedented growth since the pandemic began. Our township is benefiting in many ways from more people coming to live here, but the Township wasn’t ready. A couple of years ago, based on growth projections grounded in solid data of the preceding few years, North Dundas had enough water and sewer units to support approximately 20 years of growth.

    Then the pandemic hit, people hit the market looking to leave bigger cities, and what was forecast to be 20 years worth of water and sewer units were allocated in less than two years.

    North Dundas knew that the water and sewage capacity was dwindling, the township needs new wells, or another water source, and new sewage treatment capacity, but the Township only had two years to deal with the issue, rather than 20.

    There are two broad options to acquire more water: dig more wells, or to draw water from, or through, a neighbouring municipality.

    Council has been discussing it, but as it most likely requires the purchase or acquisition of property, it may be assumed that it’s being discussed in closed sessions. The Municipal Act 2001 allows for closed sessions for a variety of reasons: one of those being the discussion of land acquisition or disposition. Status and capacity of the wells and sewage treatment has been discussed in open meetings.

    There’s a formula to decide how many water and sewer units are required by a specific dwelling. Single-family or duplex dwellings usually require one water and one sewer unit per residence.

    Math and formulas come into play when the builds are multi-unit, such as apartments, or group living. It stands to reason that a one-bedroom apartment or room in a communal living situation would require less water and sewer capacity than a single-family dwelling with four bedrooms. Water and sewage unit allocation must be obtained before building.

    For the last year, the Township has been allocating water and sewer units in phases. If a development requested a large number, the Township and developer or builder divided the plan into phases, allocating just enough water and sewer units to facilitate the first phase of the project.

    As Mayor Fraser said at the meeting regarding the necessary denial of one of the requests, the developer will have to “leave the last six [dwellings] ‘til there’s future water.”

    In the By-law regarding allocating water and sewer units, which was deemed necessary when the Township realised they were going to have to allocate them very judiciously, there is a priority given to what is deemed more “affordable” housing, and also to commercial development.

    A brief discussion of what constituted “affordable” ensued at Council, but generally infill, intensified, or higher density development is deemed more affordable than single family or duplexes.

    Thus, the three of the four requests that were granted were: one water and one sewer unit for a basement apartment in Winchester akin to a granny flat; three water and three sewer units for a laundromat in Chesterville; and 4.38 water and 4.38 sewer units for a six-unit apartment building on Industrial Drive in Chesterville.

    A request for six water and six sewer units for developments in Thompson subdivision was denied. The developer already had six of each for single-family dwellings, but requested six more of each to allow for duplexes instead.

    Calvin Pol bluntly explained the outcome of granting these last requests: “It would take us to zero. We wouldn’t have any capacity left for the next period of time, until the new well is working in the municipality, and we can start to again grant capacity.”

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