Tensions between the rapid-fire rate of development in Carleton Place and the desire to protect drinking water and the local environment came to a head at a lengthy public meeting on July 25 at the town’s planning and protection committee.
At issue was the ambitious proposal to build the Bodnar subdivision, a 25-hectare plot consisting of 193 single dwelling homes, 317 townhouse units and 72 apartment units in the town’s northwest corner. While developers and staff from Stantec Consulting stressed in their presentation that they are meeting the requisite benchmarks for stormwater management and environmental and transportation impacts, a group of residents begged to differ.
Local environmentalists reminded the potential builders that most provincial rules are at best bare minimal requirements, and that an era of climate change and fragile ecosystems demands higher standards.
Carleton Place resident Janet McGinness questioned the legitimacy of the developer’s environmental impact statement, which she says incorrectly identifies the flow of the Mississippi River.
“It is shocking to me that this report was prepared in March of 2016 and no one discovered the flaw before it was submitted as a supporting document for this subdivision,” she said. McGinniss also questioned the reliability of the statement’s conclusions because “it does not consider a stormwater pond outlet into the river and its potential impact on the health of the river or our drinking water.”
McGinniss also attacked the stormwater management report that she says “recommends that any failure of the sewage pumping stations should direct the raw, untreated sewage into the stormwater management pond at Roy Brown Park. This is a shocking recommendation. It is unimaginable that an engineering report would recommend that raw sewage be collected in an open stormwater pond that empties directly into the Mississippi River upstream of our municipal water intake.”
McGinniss also reminded council members that “a public park is no place for a sewage holding pond,” and her concerns were echoed by a half dozen other residents, including Jerry Andrews of the town’s urban forest corridor committee. He reminded councillors the development is “right above and in close proximity to the Carleton Place drinking water intake,” a fact absent from the consultant reports, which he found “both astonishing and scary.” He says a number of ecologically vulnerable areas may be impacted by the development, which he said could pose a “significant threat to our drinking water.”
Representatives from Stantec listened to residents’ concerns and said they would take them into consideration as the process moves forward.
Councillor Doug Black reminded residents that further comments can be submitted until Aug. 11 before the development proposal goes before Lanark County.
At a meeting of the town’s policy review committee later in the evening, councillors again stressed the need for incorporating public concerns into the draft proposal for the Bodnar subdivision, and promised that public input would be accepted with respect to the developer’s revised plans.