Septic deadline doesn’t faze suspicious La Peche, Quebec residents

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by Trevor Greenway on February 18, 2010

By Trevor Greenway

Gatineau, Quebec’s strict deadline for the MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais to have a septic waste treatment plant built by Dec. 31, 2010 didn’t surprise La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere. Now, he is just hoping the city will give the MRC des Collines a grace period, as there is no way a treatment plant will be completed in that time frame.

Gatineau council announced Feb. 9 that it will no longer accept waste from outside the city in 2011, leaving La Peche, along with the six other municipalities in the MRC des Collines, in a race against the clock to get something built.

Bussiere is poised to have at least a site and a technology chosen by the Dec. 31 deadline. When asked if the plant could be built by that time his answer was a firm, “no.”

Though he hopes for a grace period he said that the project must be further along than it is now for that to happen.

“If we are still at the same position (in December) that we are in now, then yes it will be a final date,” he said.

A concerned group of La Peche residents, who has been up in arms over a perceived lack of transparency from council, is now voicing concern about the scope of the project. The MRC’s call for tenders document states that the treatment plant may accept dry sludge from the forestry industry, as well as 3,500 septic tanks in Gatineau.

Bussiere said that depending on the technology that is chosen, a certain volume might be required for that technology, but he stressed that the process is far from being at that point.

“People are panicking too fast. We will consult the population, but let us do our work before you panic.”

The residents group, which has grown to about 200, is still pushing La Peche to rescind the July 6 resolution, which lists two potential sites, one on Echo Dale Rd. in Farrellton and another south of Wakefield across from Beausoleil Home Hardware, completely. Because the two sites were already recommended by council, the group feels that keeping the two sites on the list creates an automatic bias for engineering firm CIMA +.

While council maintains that changing the contract too much may produce legal issues and eventually may void it, Tamara Tarasoff, who lives on Echo Dale Rd. argued a new approach at the Feb. 15 council meeting.

She said the MRC can interrupt the contract with CIMA + at any time with no penalties. It would only have to pay the contractor for work already completed.

In a dramatic line of questioning, Tarasoff first asked Bussiere, if there were no legal issues attached to modifying the contract, would he take the two sites off. He said yes. She then read the document outlining the MRC’s right to interrupt the contract with no penalties.

Bussiere stared down at his table and said that all will be revealed at the MRC meeting on Feb. 18.

Tarasoff later said she is concerned that residents are not getting factual answers from their elected representatives.

“They are either misrepresenting the facts,” said Tarasoff.

“Or it seemed like they didn’t know about it.”

Wakefield councillor Louis Rompre said that the call to tender’s document is not the actual contract with CIMA + and that legal issues could still surface. He said that the contract will be drawn from the call to tenders document and that all, some or none of the information outlined in the document could also be in the contract.