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Letter: 'We are all in this together', says reader

'This project in Porcupine should be of importance to everyone living in the City of Timmins no matter which neighbourhood or community you live in'
2018-07-23 pumping station MH
Pumping Station 4 in Porcupine. Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

TimminsToday received this letter about ongoing work at Pumping Station 4 in Porcupine. The full letter follows:

The day you were born the first thing you did was cry in order to show the world that you were here and that you had a voice. Some cried all the time while others were quiet and just wanted to sleep. Everyone is different but we all have a voice. In school there were always those who could not stop talking in class, others used their voices for public speaking while others stayed quiet in a corner. Some people like to talk on the phone while others like to socialize over coffee in order to talk and share ideas. This is part of human nature so where are the voices from a population of 45,000 people?  

It does not matter which neighbourhood community you live in, after all, the city wants us “to stop thinking about the former communities and start thinking about the City of Timmins in its entirety”. The city runs on your tax money so should everyone not have a voice as to how your tax money is being spent? Those living in Kamiskotia or Connaught may not be interested with the sewage problems in Porcupine, however, you should be interested in how much of your tax dollars are being used in order to rectify these problems. We are all in this together.  

Between 2008 and 2010, the city has been working on reducing the severity and frequency of bypass events. Cross connections between the sanitary and storm sewers were removed where possible. This was to eliminate any infiltration sources from drainage ditches, groundwater sources and/or surface water bodies.  In February 2012, the ministry did an inspection and determined that further direction to the city was required in regard to prevent bypasses, monitor impacts to Porcupine Lake, etc.  In May 2012, the ministry issued an order to the city requesting to have an Action Plan developed to address the excessive sewage overflows to Porcupine Lake.  An order was issued in December 2012 directing the city to implement their Action Plan. In December 2015, the city advised that construction was suspended due to “ground settling issues”. This is my common sense thinking but should the location for this project not have been re-evaluated at that time instead of continuing to “flush money” into it?  Where were our voices at the council table?

The Timmins Press article dated July 23, 2015, noted that this project would cost $16 million, which at the time was one-fifth the cost of the new Mattagami River wastewater treatment plant.  The funding for this was to come from the city’s sewer and water budget — basically your tax dollars. This project in Porcupine should be of importance to everyone living in the City of Timmins no matter which neighbourhood or community you live in. 

In 2017, the Ontario Government concluded an investigation and determined that the city contravened provincial legislation and that the city failed to meet the Provincial Officer’s Order deadlines.  This Order has since been amended numerous times.  In 2017, the compliance date for Phase 1 was changed to Feb. 28, 2018 and Phase 2 was changed to Oct. 31, 2020. These dates were changed in order to allow the city time to complete all actions necessary to be in compliance with the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.  

It appears that this project is being built on top of an aquifer.  If this is the case then what, if any, additional costs may be required moving forward?  Money still needs to be spent on updating the Whitney/Tisdale sewage treatment plant.  

The government has given the city another extension to Jan. 28, 2022.  If this project is not completed or does not work properly, this will impact the pockets of everyone living within the city’s boundary lines. Any fines will be paid from your tax dollars.  Any legal repercussions will come from your tax dollars.  This project is already over $35 million dollars with pending costs to follow so when will the 45,000 residents living in this city start using their voices?  If you do the math today, this project is already costing you $777,000-plus per 1,000 residents and is still increasing. You all work hard for your money so where are your voices as to how it is being used? This project started way before COVID and this should not be used as an excuse today.  

The city tells us to think about the City of Timmins in its entirety, so let’s start thinking.

Carol Tanguay

Timmins, Ontario