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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Phosphorous Limits set for Lake Simcoe

DURHAM -- Growth in north Durham's communities is limited to just hundreds of new residents in order to comply with interim limits for phosphorus discharged into Lake Simcoe from sewage treatment plants.
The Province has set a limit of 7,310 kilograms of phosphorus to be discharged into the lake between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009. Of that, 440 kilograms-- accounting for six per cent-- would come from Durham's four sewage plants located in Uxbridge and in Brock Township in Beaverton, Cannington and Sunderland.

According to a report presented to the Region's works committee, the limits mean Beaverton could grow by roughly 400 new residents, Sunderland by 300, Uxbridge by 700 while Cannington would see no growth.

Brock Mayor Larry O'Connor said the report allowed people that were immediately prepared to build to do so and helped his municipality understand where things stood.

"My immediate concern is there's potential in Sunderland for growth beyond that number ... in Beaverton we're probably OK with the numbers," he said.

Although the numbers are interim, the Province is currently considering a long-term strategy for managing phosphorus discharge into Lake Simcoe, which would include strict limits. The concern in Durham is that would limit growth in communities that have seen little growth in recent years.

"For us this is quite important. Last year we issued about two dozen building permits for all of Brock," said Mayor O'Connor.

He's expecting 40 new homes this year as part of a new subdivision in Sunderland and there's potential for more in future years.

The mayor said there should be some recognition of the fact that Sunderland has stuck to its official plan for decades.

"The urban boundary in Sunderland has not changed in 30 years," he said.

In Uxbridge, Regional works committee member and Councillor Howie Herrema said it's important to consider the scope of growth in these communities.

"We're not talking about municipal sprawl here, we're talking about a few houses every year," he said.

Coun. Herrema said his community has done what's necessary to prepare for growth, including upgrading the Uxbridge plant to enhance phosphorus removal, and doesn't feel like Uxbridge is being rewarded by the Province. The Beaverton plant was recently upgraded as well.

Of the 15 sewage plants that discharge into the lake, the largest phosphorus sources are Barrie at 3,133 kilograms, Orillia at 1,438 kilograms and Keswick at 939 kilograms.

Both Uxbridge and Brock plan to appeal to the Province.

"This is about communities too, not just a planning exercise or a works exercise and we have to emphasize that to the Province," said Coun. Herrema.

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