PORT HOOD: The good news is the municipality is working toward remedying problems at the Inverness and Whycocomagh waste water treatment plants, but the bad news is the revisions didn’t come quickly enough to avoid fines from two provincial departments, Environment as well as Labour and Advanced Education.
“We’re bringing it back to the table to make council aware that staff are currently addressing some orders we received in the past that are fairly complicated and that haven’t yet been addressed,” said CAO Keith MacDonald.
He said that between February of 2013 and August of 2018, the municipality was contacted by the environment department several times about the two treatment plants. As the municipality didn’t respond to the contacts in the appropriate manner, it now has to pay out $21,516.09 in fines.
He said he wanted to make sure council was fully aware of how the fines transpired.
“As soon as they identify an issue, they provide a written report to a municipality asking for work to be advanced to eliminate a particular issue,” he said. “The municipality is given a good stretch of time to rectify the situation, maybe a month or two, depending on how complicated the issue is.
“If the municipality doesn’t reply to that particular order, that order moves to a directive or directly to a fine. After that, a summary ticket is issued to the municipality.”
In the past, staff had not responded to directives relating to the condition of operations at the waste water plants.
“We are getting significant calls about those plants, but council should be aware these have been ongoing issues. On top of that, current staff is working diligently on a daily basis to get operations under control.
“We’re taking a proactive approach to make sure we have zero fines moving forward.”
The age of the plants makes things more complicated, he said, and the issues are significant.
Inverness County is currently waiting to hear back on applications to the Federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) as it relates to funding for a large scale retrofit of the facilities.
Councillor Laurie Cranton asked how much communication is taking place with the departments, and the CAO responded that the departments are up to speed.
Deputy Warden Alfred Poirier said he appreciated how detailed MacDonald was in fleshing out the issue with the fines.
“There were three of us on the previous council, and what I want to make sure the public knows is that we were never told of the fines,” he said. “Had I known, I would have done something.”