Municipal Council report

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Residents concerned over smell at water treatment facility

Some Merrickville residents are concerned about an unpleasant odour that has been wafting from the water treatment plant over the past few weeks. This is not the first time this has happened. Resident, Barry Phillips, made council aware of the smell last year, when he was unable to sit in his backyard because of the odour coming from the facility. His worry is that the smell is being caused by the mismanagement of the water treatment plant.

It is evident that he is not the only person who feels that way. A notice, circulated anonymously in the community, noted that the odour may be related to some serious health risks for the residents of Merrickville. However, a public notice released by the municipality on September 21, dispels this rumour, as will be seen elsewhere in this issue.The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and the Village took steps in early spring to mitigate the smell by covering up one open tank with rubber mats. “This resulted in a reduction of the odour,” the notice states.

The municipality has contacted OCWA’s Process Team to assist them in developing a strategy to counter the odour. For now, staff is hoping to address the issue by transferring sludge late at night, and aerating overnight during cooler ambient temperatures. Anyone with further questions is encouraged to contact OCWA at 613-269-3247.

Merrickville baseball diamond expansion on hold

Staff has recommended that council postpone the expansion of the baseball diamond in Merrickville until after the 2019 budget has been set. Mike Seeley, a representative from the Seaway Surge Baseball Club, made a presentation to council at the meeting of September 10, asking them to invest in their diamond so the older kids in their club could use the field for their games.

In a report prepared for council by Treasurer, Kirsten Rahm, it states that there are no leftover funds in the recreation budget to fund this project. There is a balance of $26,750 in a recreation reserve, however these funds were set aside in 2017 by council to reimburse municipal residents for surcharges imposed by Smiths Falls for the use of their recreation facilities.

Mike has proposed using volunteers to do the work, and supplied Merrickville-Wolford CAO, Doug Robertson, with a verbal quote of $625 for the cost of an unspecified type of stone. No cost or plans for delivery, design or construction was provided. Staff is concerned about the liability associated with volunteers doing this work, given the technical nature of the project. “In my experience, there is specific expertise needed to construct [baseball diamonds],” Doug says, adding that uneven surfaces, ponding water, and other issues that may come with improper installation, can be dangerous at a high level of play. “We have an ethical and legal obligation to keep people safe and ensure that it is constructed properly.”

Doug does not want to make it seem that volunteers are not valued in the community. “The value of the volunteers in this community is outstanding,” he says. In many cases, the municipality is able to work alongside volunteers on community projects, however Doug says that, because they do not have specific guidelines to follow with the expansion of a baseball diamond, it is best to leave it up to the professionals. The Seaway Surge already expanded the diamond last year, to allow their youngest players to use it in this past season. Doug cannot comment on why the Seaway Surge was allowed do this, as he was not employed with the municipality at that time.

Staff recommends that the municipality follow their Procurement Policy, which would require the services of a properly trained, equipped and insured contractor to undertake the work. The report suggests that, should council wish to proceed with this project, they add it as a line item in the 2019 budget deliberations. “We would be taking a lot of risks to try and push it through [this year],” Doug says.

Municipality puts end to bulk water sales

The Municipality has decided to discontinue the practice of selling bulk water to the public.

A report prepared for council by Treasurer, Kirsten Rahm, stated that, under limited circumstances, water had been distributed free of charge, despite the municipality having a fee schedule for the sale of bulk water. “The Village will be invoicing for the water that was used for the County Road 15 section,” the report states.

This situation has caused the municipality to review their policy on bulk water sales. When consulted, Fire Chief Mark Urquhart indicated that the practice of selling bulk water may have implications for their fire pump, and increase the potential for operational issues. “This would lead to an impact on preparedness in case of a fire, or other need for water in an emergency situation,” the report states.

Because of this, the Chief has recommended that they stop selling water to residents and other third parties. This means that people needing water to fill their swimming pools etc. will need to look elsewhere. Only the Merrickville Fire Department and Public Works Department will have access to the municipality’s water sources for operational purposes.

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