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Town could get a break on sewage charges

Tribune-Express, vendredi 28 mars 2008

Town could get a break on sewage charges

The town of Hawkesbury may get off with a small penalty for its alleged environmental infractions, even though provincial law calls for the imposition of fines ranging as high as $6 million.

The municipality has been taken to court by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment because the town's sewage treatment plant does not meet provincial standards. If found guilty, the town could be fined a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $6 million.

However, negotiations are ongoing with a view to reaching an out-of-court settlement. Proceedings in the Provincial Offences Act court in L'Orignal have been adjourned until May.

Ministry officials "are debating what they're going to do," says Rick Eamon, a vice-president with the Thompson-Rosemount Group, the Cornwall engineering firm that has been hired by the town to find solutions to its wastewater treatment problems. "My feeling is that the ministry is leaning towards a minimum to zero fine," Eamon said at a recent council meeting.

According to figures presented to town council, the remedy could cost anywhere from $26 million to $42 million, with the local share being anywhere from $9 million to $13 million.

Preliminary studies and plans for the expansion or replacement for the plant can be consulted at an information session that will be held April 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the town hall. A formal presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m.

While the federal government recently approved a $2.6 million grant for the project, the town is banking on landing more than two-thirds funding from the Ontario and federal governments towards the upgrade of the system.

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