Enerdu project still needs approvals – assessment of project status

Alex Gillisby Mississippi Mills Councillor Alex Gillis

It seems to me that many think that the Enerdu Project is already approved to start. Councillor Dalgity’s recent article summarizes well the Minister of Environment’s conditional approval but much is still required before the project can proceed. Here is my assessment of the project’s actual status based on research and expert advice.

When Enerdu proposed an expansion of the old flour mill generating facility, it triggered a Class Environmental Assessment in accordance with the Ontario Waterpower Association’s approved Class Environmental Assessment. The Mississippi Mills Town Council registered many concerns about the Enerdu Project and requested that the Environmental Assessment be raised to Class 2. This request to escalate the Assessment was denied by the Minister of Environment (MOE), but some concerns were left to be addressed conditionally.

Enerdu now, effectively, has preliminary approval from MOE to proceed with final design but must clear conditions and seek ‘approvals to proceed’ prior to construction. These conditions include the requirements for an acceptable hydraulic modelling result and for a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA). The ownership of the river rights must also be cleared with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).

The hydraulic modelling submission has not been submitted to MVCA, so far. The HIA report was sent recently to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for review; the Town’s Heritage Committee has submitted comments to the Ministry. Copies of the HIA report are available at the Almonte Library and at the Town Office and may become available at www.wesa.ca

Also, construction of the dam, including any proposed changes in operation, requires approval of MNR. The construction and operation of dams in Ontario are regulated by MNR under the Lakes and River Improvement Act (L&RIA). As construction of the dam is in an area regulated by MVCA, under Ont. Reg. 153/06, the physical structure is considered development and requires a permit from MVCA. The review of an application for permission by MVCA will involve assessing potential impacts on the control of flooding, erosion, pollution and the conservation of land. This information must also be submitted to MNR for their review and approval under the L&RIA.

Hopefully, this article will be of some help in understanding the ongoing approval process for the Enerdu Project which still requires much to be done prior to final approval to proceed with construction.