Echo Lake Estates is still waiting to hear back from the Ministry of the Environment over who is responsible for an easement on the south side of the property that needs to be enclosed before a subdivision agreement can be signed.
Wendy Judson, who’s been developing the Emo property with her husband, Tom, said she hasn’t heard anything on the subject other than that the MoE and Ontario Clean Water Agency met late last month to discuss the situation and decided to take things “back to their legal department.”
“That’s all I know,” Judson said. “I haven’t heard anything.”
The Judsons sent a letter to the MoE earlier this fall stating they intend to sue the ministry for the cost of upgrading the easement to some sort of storm drain to take run-off from Emo’s sewage lagoon, which they were told they had to do after receiving draft approval to go ahead with the subdivision.
Judson said waiting around doing nothing has become quite frustrating.
“You can’t put anything into land titles until the subdivision is signed,” she noted. “With the mild weather, we could get the ditch done immediately. It would probably take eight days of work—10 days at the most.”
John Barr, supervisor at the MoE’s area office in Kenora, said he was aware of the Judsons’ letter although he was unaware of any meeting between the ministry and OCWA.
“From a legal standpoint, I don’t know what it has to with OCWA or MoE,” he remarked. “It’s the municipality’s sewage lagoon.”
Barr said the ministry and the Northwestern Health Unit would have been remiss in their duties if they didn’t point out the fact that having open access to sewage affluent could pose a public safety hazard.
He also seemed quite firm in his position about who should be responsible for paying for the drainage conversion.
“If you put in a subdivision development in, say a commercial or industrial neighbourhood, and the Ministry of Environment says you’re a little too close to this industrial factory, say a wrecking shop, you have to put up a high fence,” Barr said.
“Is that your responsibility or the government’s responsibility?” he queried.
Kenora Liberal MPP Frank Miclash, who became involved in the situation at the Judsons’ request, said he’s brought the matter to the attention of Environment minister Norm Sterling personally.
“He has assured me they consider this an important issue,” Miclash said. “My emphasis to the minister is we need a timely solution that will allow for much-needed development in the region.
“I think all parties involved just want a resolution,” he added.