Ramsey Lake watershed study finally moves ahead with provincial cash
Province gives Greater Sudbury $2.3M to study 9 watersheds over next 2 years
Nearly three years after Sudbury city council first promised to study pollution in its lakes, work looks to finally be moving ahead, thanks to provincial funding.
Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault announced $2.3 million on Monday to study nine watersheds in Greater Sudbury over the next two years.
A few years ago, the city identified 17 areas that might need study. In the coming weeks, council will select the top nine.
Ramsey Lake, which has been at the centre of the water quality debate in the city, will be looked at first, city administration said.
Back in May 2013, Sudbury city council voted unanimously to study Ramsey's watershed to help guide future development decisions and some councilors even called for a building freeze until the study was done.
In February 2015, city staff told CBC News that they had been too busy to dedicate time to the Ramsey watershed and planned to hire a consultant by the end of the year.
As part of this new provincial funding, a committee will now be struck, which will then hire a consultant to conduct the studies.
"And meanwhile all these years have passed and developments, quite large developments have been approved around the watershed, so that's the main frustration is the delay," said Lily Noble, co-chair of the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance.
Greater Sudbury infrastructure general manager Tony Cecutti said the watershed studies will make it easier for him to do his job, specifically in planning out how the city grows.
"The benefit of these studies is wide reaching," he continued. "Of course the community still has lots of capacity for growth, but we want that growth to be done in a responsible way without any harmful impacts to the environment."
Cecutti said the studies will also tell staff which specific storm water infrastructure the city needs to protect Ramsey and other lakes. In the past he has said that infrastructure could cost as much as $60 million.
Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance chair Margaret McLaughlin hopes the studies will help convince council to write those cheques when the time comes.
"Nothing's easy when it comes to taxes, but hopefully these studies will show what needs to be done and maybe there's different ways of getting it done," she said.
A public meeting will be held in the next couple of weeks so Sudburians can share their thoughts on the watershed studies and city council is expected to decide which nine watersheds to focus on at a meeting later this month.