I think the stakeholders in Mississippi Mills (residents, business owners, property owners, Council, others) are following this process, although it’s my opinion that we are not protecting the river to the degree we should. Designs, concepts, pretty descriptions, and “hopes” of what a future expanded Enerdu building will look like mid-river and how the riverscape will or will not be affected are not enough to convince me to risk the riverscape we have now.
The Town Planner recently made the comment below. I bolded and underlined the sentences I think are noteworthy.
Without the control mechanism of the interim control by-law [moratorium by-law] (that would expire September 16th, 2015) so long as they [Enerdu] have satisfied the requirements under the OBC [Ontario Building Code], the department cannot hold back a permit. It is important to remember that Enerdu is currently working with DAC [Design Advisory Committee] to create a concept plan for the facility that has been approved at this point by Jeff Cavanaugh and is scheduled to come back to the committee in April. It is still going to take a number of months for them to take the concept plans to a complete set of detailed working drawings. It is also important to note that the hydraulic modeling and the ownership issue of the river still have to be addressed. Until these issues have been addressed no permit will be issued.
Also, the Town’s CAO sent out the following information, copied from Appendix 5 of the Enerdu project’s Health Impact Assessment (HIA). Appendix 5 refers to the Design Advisory Committee. This information was in response to this question: Are the Design Advisory Committee recommendations binding?
The Enerdu team has agreed to / approved the creation of a concept plan and to work with the Design Advisory Committee on it, but there is nothing binding about this process. The Design Advisory Committee can make suggestions, but will also make concessions by the time any final drawings are made – as well the DAC is not making suggestions on how to protect the cascading falls, nor how to mitigate the interference on and engineering of the river bed, nor the health of the wetlands. There is no possible way to imagine the outcome of this process, nor to know how fast the Enerdu team can move on fulfilling our Town’s building permit requirements and requirements set by the MVCA.
It’s my opinion that our town’s goal should be to work with Enerdu and make cooperative recommendations for efficiencies to its current plant, on it’s current footprint AND ultimately to prioritize the protection and health of the riverscape here in Almonte and across all the hamlets within Mississippi Mills.
The moratorium remaining in place until the Heritage Conservation District guidelines are established would be a good safeguard for the interim.