August 20, 2020 - Cramahe Committee of the Whole Discusses Industrial Park Development

There were several items on the Agenda, including a lengthy presentation on the 401 Expansion plans (coming to an interchange near you), with detour routes being the biggest area of concern. In order to fully understand the magnitude of the project, see the attached PowerPoint presentation. Hwy 401 Preliminary Design and Environmental Assessment

If you wish to listen to the full 1-1/2 hour meeting, here is the YouTube video recording of the zoom  meeting: August 20., 2020 Cramahe Council Zoom Meeting

There was a presentation and discussion on the sale of remaining industrial park lands and the status of the sewer system. Manager of Planning Heather Sadler’s report “Industrial Lands Development Policy - Status and Update” is available here August 20. 2020 Industrial Lands Development Policy

Gritt Koehl prepared a summary of this portion of the meeting.  While it accurately represents the comments, it is not a word for word transcription.  Anyone wishing to listen to the audio of this part of the meeting (approximately 34 minutes) you can access it here.

Discussion of Cramahe Industrial Park & Sewers

Manager of Planning Sadler: There has been increased interest in purchase of land by current business people in the township. The lands are available for sale and will be sold at a fair market value.

The issues that the Township has, trying to get sewers to those lands are substantial, so it makes sense to sell the lands, so the township can realize revenue from the sale of those lands.

There isn’t any chance of getting sewers up there in the foreseeable future. Any extra capacity we can gain at the WWTP is needed for residential development in Colborne.

The wellhead protection area limits what can go in there as well. If we wait until we can service the land, it will put the sale of the land far into the future. It would be contrary to the best interests of the township right now to hold off selling. Vacant land no tax revenue – industrial taxes would at least bring in tax revenue.

Councillor Clark: I don’t know where we are going in the future. The current sewer is inadequate. We had a plan to upgrade the sewer, but it is not being followed through at this time. OAFVC is limited because of the small-bore system. Also, the Big Apple could be hooked up to an upgraded system. I think it is in the township’s interest to look at expanding the sewer.

Councillor Van Egmond: We are going to have to look at other properties that can service industries, and these existing properties are not set up properly for industry. If we can make some money on these properties, then I think we should look at what the lots are worth, and go from there.

Deputy Mayor Arthur: We have some very valuable land there, so if we go and sell it now, we would lose out. We missed the opportunity for funding right now, but I think we should hold onto the land until we get service up there, if that’s a year or two?

Sadler: There is a possibility for the lands to be serviced further into the future, and that would increase the value of the land that that translates into increased tax revenue for the township as well.

Mayor Martin: Heather (Sadler) has presented earlier this year the Industrial Secondary Plan which is looking at increased industrial land designation expanded, and that is beyond the restriction of the well head exclusion zone. So the lands from the previous industrial park lands is severely restricted in terms of what can and cannot go there, because of the well head exclusion area. It’s not as if the skies the limit here in terms of this property. We have to look at what actually can go there.

Van Egmond: I also see with the 401 expansion that they’ve taken a portion of our industrial base with the new parking lot.

Martin: Yes, so that’s why in our proposed secondary industrial plan, we’ve expanded the territory – we’ve expanded the lands that we can regard as industrial. And Don, I would like to say, I as with you, we have not dropped the need for expansion of service, particularly regarding sewer. What we are always fighting against is availability of money and support. We have to keep going, and there are other immediate challenges right now. That is going to happen, it’s just a matter of when and how. We have to be able to put up the seed money on these grants, what we have to contribute and that’s what we need.

Councillor Gilligan: The other thing too with these sales is that someone isn’t just speculating, and just go and sit on that property, because they know the demand will be there. The first go around in the industrial park people were just buying the property and letting it sit there. We have to sell the lots for fair market value, and have an agreement of a business that’s going to be there within the next two years. The land can’t just sit there with nothing happening for 10 years.

Clark: That’s a good point Tim (Gilligan), because actually that’s what happened when the County put the water up there originally to the industrial park, because all those one acre lots were bought up by a few individuals, and then there’s not much industry ever developed there.

Sadler: If you are willing to have an Offer of Purchase & Sale come forward to you, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it, and it does mean you have the ability to put in whatever conditions you want.

Len Patterson (resident): you guys keep talking about expansion of your sewage system north in the industrial. It is and it will be, but you’re not looking at the elephant in the room. The sewage station at the end where all of this has to go. You can’t handle anymore. I think you should be spending your time and effort on finding out prices on how it’s actually going to cost you to increase the volume down there. Otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels.

Martin: In fact we are actively investigating the capacity challenges that we have. For example, we are concerned about what they call infiltration, which is inflow into the system, which throws our data off, which means we are processing ground water or storm water. We want to make sure everything is working properly. We know that the station we have done there was built way above standard. There are options in terms of expansion. We just have to make sure we have all of our ducks in a row. So, here’s what happened. You opened one door and think that you’re addressing that, and lo and behold, there’s a whole cottage industry in there of stuff, waiting…you know one connects to the next thing. So you can’t just do one thing alone without it affecting other aspects of the equation. We have to take the time to review and study and do the things responsibly, so when the whole system comes in place, we’re not just double and triple spending money on the same issue, and that we’re spending the money wisely once and addressing the problem going forward, so that we’re not just wasting taxpayer dollars, or our own efforts pursuing grants that won’t address what we need to have done.

Patterson: What exactly has taken place in the last 18 months or so? You guys studied and studied, and did all kinds of reports, and didn’t like any of the reports, because they all told you that you didn’t have enough capacity down there. So you’ve given up now, because I haven’t heard any reports or what testing has been done. As far as being able to answer this question that has been here for 4 or 5 years now.

Martin: Well Len, there are still things being reviewed and the flows and so on are still being approached. What happened, we have put in for major grants and we haven’t heard back, then COVID hit and we haven’t heard back on where anybody’s applications are. Also COVID changed the balance sheet, how things are assessed, and where we stack up against the whole country in terms of the federal and provincial grants, and all that jazz. The whole equation has changed, so we just have to keep pursuing this and carrying on. I am somewhat stalled – I am feeling stalled - and I get it. I feel that this Council is grappling(?), but we have to keep adjusting and accepting that there are other challenges that have come. Other things that have come forward as a result, and they must be dealt with. It’s been quite a term for this Council in terms of everything we have been dealing with and facing up to, but it doesn’t mean we have lost interest in any of this, or our sense of commitment to it. I think it will work out. Some of these things take negotiation. You know, do we do it in public/private partnerships? Do we do it with the three levels of government? All of these things have to be weighed and considered, and that’s what we are doing. One size does not fit all, but I will tell you this. When you’re a small municipality, we have far more flexibility and we can turn on a dime. It’s not as if we’re having to move a monolithic ministry. We have the capability here in this township…of getting it together and making a decision. I think that is our strength. Some of the big boys think that is a weakness, I say it’s a strength.

Gritt Koehl: After listening to all of that go around there, that didn’t really answer any questions, it’s probably better that I don’t ask my question. Other than you were going and staff was directed to apply for funding up to almost 4 million dollars. If I understand what’s been going on here, that funding did not come through. Is that correct? That was to expand the actual sewer up to the Industrial Park, nothing to do with the WWTP, which is where the real issues lie, so you can’t do that without having the WWTP addressed…so.

Martin: Would you like to address that Arryn?

CAO Arryn McNichol: Certainly…The ISIP grant that we did apply for, for the sanitary sewer industrial park upgrade, was denied from what I understand. However, there are a number of other grants, certainly with COVID funding that we can apply for. Now in terms of what we’re doing in the sanitary sewer system and how we’re going to address the infiltration – and Dave can probably speak to this better than I can, but I know it’s been an incredibly dry summer, but we’ve set up flow meters to try to determine where the inflow is coming in from. Staff have been working in the background trying to identify where the inflow & infiltration (I & I) is coming from, and we have been studying that as well. As time permits, and as grants come up, we will be applying for grants to address not only the sanitary sewer system, but also the upgrades. Certainly, it’s the inflow and not the plant capacity that is at issue, and Dave can speak to that. There’s the plant capacity, which is completely fine provided we don’t have the I & I we currently have. So I think the plan is to address the I & I, which staff are currently working on, and then address the plant capacity when the time approaches. Future growth at the Big Apple, hotels or industrial, and that will be the second phase of it. Dave, would you like to speak to this as well?

Manager Dave MacPherson: Staff is fully engaged in doing the onsite investigations, but we do need to have some heavier flows to see when the storm water flows is impacting. Essentially for the last couple of months we have not had the required flows. But when the flows do start going back up, staff is fully engaged with a plan to gather the required information. What our biggest challenge is, we want to eliminate treating just storm water, or infiltrated water. It’s very costly. We want to solve this problem, but we need to do it methodically and essentially eliminate areas of the system and find out where our problems are, and staff is fully engaged in doing that.

Koehl: Mayor Martin, just quickly – the infiltration problem/challenges that the township faces, has been looked at for over two years now, is that correct?

Martin: Beginning, yes.

Koehl: And it’s been $250 grand, correct to date?

Martin: I don’t what you’re citing. Are you citing studies done in the past?

Koehl: No, the actual infiltration studies and repairs along the way, when they found infiltration points, they were doing repairs along the way, and I believe that was around $250,000, or $230,000.

Martin: Gritt, I’m going to ask that something be put together for you, because there have been a lot of things going on. There were a lot of studies done in the past. I think what’s happened now is that, please note staff is doing a lot of the studying. We have got infiltration monitors. We can go and measure precisely, from place to place, where things are happening, so we’re doing it on the ground in terms of our own knowledge.

Koehl: That’s the $6,000 meter that you bought so you could actually test the inflow yourself, instead of having to use a consultant. Correct?

Martin: Correct.

Koehl: Okay, that’s good. That’s it for me, thank you.


December 18, 2019 - Cramahe's Pursuit of Funding for Its Sewer System

It is very clear that Cramahe Township does not have the expertise to plan and manage a wastewater system.

From its inception back in 1964, the history of the wastewater system is replete with stumbles and bad decisions.  Perhaps the worst decision was made back in 1974 when, the Village of Colborne elected to go with the lower cost Tri-Homme option, rather than go with a provincial government proposal to install and operate the sewer system in perpetuity.  This meant that the Village had to assume responsibility for the long term care and control of the sewage system.

The next watershed moment came in June 2003, when Cramahe’s Municipal Council decided to install a small-bore sewer (SBS) system to service the industrial lands instead of a traditional “big pipe” gravity sewer.  The decision was predicated on the fact that there was INSUFFICIENT capacity at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).  It was argued that the system could only accommodate the grey water from the industrial septic systems.  Remember that the Industrial Park was originally planned as a DRY park when it came to handling of wastewater.

The installation of the new small bore system was haphazard at best since it was done with a horizontal boring machine more suited to installing gas lines or underground cables.  This led to issues with operation of the system.  In particular, clumps of tracer wires were left behind in the pipes that ultimately caused blockages.  Staff involved in the maintenance of the SBS has a long list of grievances with respect to the system.

Fortunately very few businesses and no residences connected to the small bore sewer system and it was able to limp along.

Then came the next watershed moment – businesses were allowed to make process water connections to the SBS and they began to push more and more water through their clarifier tanks as the businesses expanded.  This in turn pushed solids into the SBS system.  Remember the SBS system was installed to handle GREY water from the septic systems.

The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was the addition of high volume water users such as fast food restaurants and cafeterias to the system.

While the SBS system worked after a fashion, it was clear that it was being overwhelmed by the way it was being used.

A consultant engineering company (D.M. Wills) was engaged to do an environmental study of options to replace the SBS with a large bore sewer.  Despite producing a 184 page document (September 2018) and presenting four possible routes for the LBS, the work by D.M. Wills was superficial at best.  The report did not address Wellhead Protection, Natural Heritage & Agricultural Systems Mapping and the diameter and condition of the 50+ year old pipes in Colborne.  When asked, one of the D.M. Wills engineers stated that “We don’t know right now how much development will exceed the capacity of the downstream pipes.”  Most important the report did not address the ability of the wastewater treatment plant to handle the additional load.

At every juncture in the history of the wastewater treatment system, there have been questions about the capacity of the plant.

Between 2010 and 2014, the WWTP underwent a $7.2 million upgrade.  This included the installation of a Force Main out to Lake Ontario.  It was claimed that the upgrade increased the WWTP capacity by roughly 30 percent.

In April 2016 a report from Lakefront Utility Services reported “there is strong evidence of significant infiltration but this occurred somewhat suddenly in the fall of 2015.  The MOECC (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change) has also identified that the system is showing signs of moderate infiltration.  This infiltration could be systemic or concentrated in one distinct area in the distribution system.”  The report stated that infiltration was using up the useful capacity of the collection system and wastewater treatment plant.

This became a major driver for the $3.2 million rehabilitation work (2018) on Park Road, Cedar Street and Burnham Street since it was believed that this was a major source of sewer infiltration.

Since that time the Township has been repairing identified sources of infiltration (e.g. defective manhole covers) and has continued chasing the remaining elusive sources of infiltration via sewer camera inspections under varying environmental conditions.

At present there is still no clear statement as to the available capacity at the WWTP.  The MOEE Inspection Report on Tuesday’s agenda indicated that the plant operated at 93 to 95% capacity in 2017 and 2018.

This brings us to the current “panic” planning to try and get on the provincial and federal gravy train for sewer funding before the looming deadline.  There is no detailed business plan and no engineering documents - just a general hand waving argument that something needs to be done to solve the SBS issues and to build for the future.

All you need to do is listen to this discussion recorded at the December 17, 2019 Council-In-Committee Meeting.

Despite the fact that Cramahe is identified as a development area and can benefit from industries moving into the area, it is vital that Council and Staff stop running around in ever diminishing circles.  They need to develop meaningful big picture plans that are properly costed.  As was stated at the beginning of this story Cramahe does not have the expertise to plan and manage a wastewater system. Quite simply they need technical support from upper tier governments.  The sooner they get this help the better!

Ernie Koehl

November 9, 2018 Fact Check of the November 6, 2018 Council Proceedings on LBS EA

Gritt Koehl analyzed the proceedings of the November 6, 2018 Council meeting with regard to the Environmental Assessment studies for the Large Bore Sewer extension to the Cramahe Industrial park.  Read her fact checking report here Analysis and Fact Checking of Nov 6 Council Meeting

November 6, 2018 Cramahe Council Approves Funding of Additional EA Studies For Large Bore Sewer Extension

The Environmental Assessment for the large bore sewer expansion to the Cramahe Industrial Park dominated the Council in Committee Meeting held on November 6, 2018. Mayor Marc Coombs introduced the topic and asked for a mover and a seconder for the following motion:

“Administration Report 25-18 Sanitary Sewer Extension EA additional studies and design work. It is recommended that administration report 25-18 be received for information and that Council approves the additional studies and design work be completed as related to the preferred option as identified in the EA”

The motion was moved by Councillor Ed Van Egmond and seconded by Councillor Don Clark

During the discussion of this motion, Deputy Mayor Sandra Arthur raised a number of concerns with respect to the current plan to extend the large bore sewer up Elgin Street.  This is an audio clip of Sandra’s comments

Marc Coombs then asked CAO Craig Brooks to respond to Sandra’s comments.  These are Craig's comments

Councillor Tim Gilligan then stated “I think like Sandra said, that we should defer this until Council is on board basically to review all the information in light of new information.”  This prompted an animated rebuttal from Councillor Ed Van Egmond.  His comments included the following:

“I don’t understand the new information….nothing has changed. It’s the same system….Clearford is just a name change, they’re the same company, it it’s the same people, it’s the same old, same old….They didn’t help us until we said that steps were going to be taken….Their sewers – their cleanouts were put in backwards.”

Comments from CAO Craig Brooks followed as did comments from Marc Coombs.  Most notably Marc stated:

“it (the SBS) was meant to be a short-term relatively short-term solution. It wasn’t meant to be a permanent solution to the problems of servicing the Industrial Park. And the Industrial Park has grown enormously since that system was put in, and that’s put a lot of pressure on the SBS”

Comments of the three individuals can be found in this audio clip 

In response to Sandra’s call for a recorded vote, Municipal Clerk Julie Oram offered the following information:

So Your Worship, I’d like to speak to the Procedural By-law, Section 3.19 and it actually refers to Subsection (a) Recorded votes shall not be taken at Council-in-Committee meetings. This matter should be dealt with within a Council Meeting procedurally. There are issues with the Township’s Procedural By-law that I would like to address. I think that whether, if there’s any Councillors that object to it, I would agree to conduct the, uh, recorded vote at this time. Just the fashion of the all resolutions of Council-in-Committee and Council Meetings are numbered, so it’s not going to have any effect whether it’s done in Council, or whether it’s done in Council-in-Committee. Procedurally it’s identified, and I don’t really agree – I don’t see the effect is going to change much if it’s taken in Council. It would have to be pulled out of the Motion in your Council and you adopt the Council-in-Committee proceedings. You would have to remove that section and vote on it separately, so it would be a little bit more complicated in that way. You would have to do two votes on that section on the Council Agenda. I’m offering that up as a procedure to the Chair.”

Despite this technicality, Council proceeded with a recorded vote:

Against:  Deputy Mayor Arthur; Councillor Gilligan

ForCouncillor Van Egmond; Councillor Clark; Mayor Coombs  

With three Yays and two Nays. The motion was carried.

Mayor Coombs then asked reporter John Campbell if he had any questions.  During the questions by John, Nathan Ross (lawyer representing Mayor-elect Mandy Martin) rose to make a statement about the fact that a complaint had been submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman.

During the public question period Cramahe resident Doug Harrison offered his comments on the issue.  This is a copy of his written comments Doug Harrison Comments

Gritt Koehl then addressed Council on the issue.  The proceedings got somewhat testy when Councillor Ed Van Egmond rudely interrupted Gritt.  The exchange was followed by Mayor-elect Mandy Martin asking about the cost of the additional EA studies being proposed.

Gritt Koehl prepared a transcription of the proceedings Transcription of EA Portion of Council Meeting

The audio recording of the whole meeting is available here 

October 22, 2018 - Part IV in the Cramahe Large Bore Expansion Story

Gritt Koehl has produced a summary of the LBS story.  In it she explores the information that was withheld from the public and Council members.  She goes on to list some of the unanswered questions and puts together what constitutes a reasonable path forward.  Part IV in the Large Bore Expansion Story

October 19, 2018 Cramahe Mayor Behaving Badly Regarding Industrial Park Sewer System

New information has come to light regarding the questionable actions of Cramahe Mayor Marc Coombs in dealing with the Industrial Park sewer system.  The following information has been summarized from Facebook posts by Gritt Koehl.  It may be best to start reading from CRAMAHE - MAYOR BEHAVING BADLY - PART I


CLEARFORD's Professional Engineer Gillian Dumencu has just replied to an email that was sent to Clearford on October 15, 2018. Not only are there alternatives to alleviate excess flow, but there should not be any buildup of solids in the SBS, nor does an uneven pipe cause flow issues.

Clearford email on SBS Installation Issues Clearford Email Re SBS Installation Issues


The following is a quote from Marc Coombs’ October 12, 2018 email:

"All of the current Council is on board with this route except our Deputy Mayor. I think I mentioned to you a while back we had just one person who didn't like that route. For the past year she was pushing for us to run it down Big Apple Drive/Percy by the property she owns. At the last Council meeting I referenced she was pushing instead for us to spend more money on the small bore sewer system which doesn't include any expansion opportunities for the proposed developments that are on the horizon. Just so you know, this is being driven by Gritt & Ernie Koehl from Grafton. They have been really stirring the pot in regards to this and have a strange hold over her.

But I am confident everything will unfold as it should. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to reach out. "


“First of all, you insinuate that Sandra Arthur wants the sewer to run by property she owns. Hello Marc Coombs! The SBS already does that! WHY you even suggest this, is to insinuate that she has "ulterior motives". That is so far from the truth Marc, it isn't even funny. The only one with ulterior motives is you Marc Coombs.

Secondly, you and CAO Craig Brooks intentionally kept hidden a Flow Capacity Report by Clearford from Council for 14 months, and had the audacity to have your D.M. Wills consultant bury it at the back of the 184 page draft EA Study. The Clearford report indicated that expansion of the SBS could be tripled, but you autocratically decided to ignore that report and kept Council in the dark. WHY?

The Clearford report also explained WHY the SBS was having issues. That's because the prior Councils, of which you and Councillor Ed Van Egmond were a part, allowed Four WET Businesses to connect to the SBS. The system was designed for DRY services only (normal water & sewage). This overloaded the SBS. I would suggest Marc Coombs, that the problem with excess flow through the SBS is ultimately your fault.”


First email (October 17, 2018) to current Council Members Deputy Mayor Email to Council Members

Sandra Arthur email (October 17, 2018) to Cramahe Council candidates Deputy Mayor Email to Cramahe Candidates


On October 12, 2018 Mayor Marc Coombs sent an email to a resident of Cramahe.  It turns out that Coombs had sent it to the wrong resident. The resident not only forwarded the email to his brother, who was the intended recipient, but he also delivered a letter to Deputy Mayor Sandra Arthur in person. He subsequently forwarded the original email to Sandra, and she has sent it to the Koehls.  All three are wrongfully denigrated by Marc Coombs in his email.

Gritt Koehl, spoke with the intended recipient, and he has given permission to post as follows:

“In addition to the email sent by Coombs on Oct 12, Marc Coombs sent another email around the end of May, or beginning of June to me.

I did NOT respond to that email, and I truly wonder why the first email and this second email was sent by Coombs in the first place.  These emails were unsolicited by me.

I have no intention at the present time to pursue development on the parcel of land in question beyond the approved residence.

Furthermore, I believe that any development within Cramahe Township, including any sewer upgrades, should be done in a responsible, informed manner having examined ALL aspects with respect to where, when and how such development should occur. “

Here is the email that Marc Coombs sent on October 12, 2018 Marc Coombs Email

We wish to make it very clear that we are NOT OPPOSED to sewer upgrades, nor are we opposed to development in the Village of Colborne, or the Cramahe Industrial Park.

What we are opposed to is the proposed route being pushed by Marc Coombs and CAO Craig Brooks, and the biased and incomplete Draft Environmental Assessment that was done by D.M. Wills Consultant.

October 13, 2018 - The Industrial Park Sewer System In Maps and Diagrams

After reviewing the Draft EA Report for the Cramahe Industrial Park Sanitary System Upgrades, it appears that the report does not address the Provincial Natural Heritage and/or Agricultural Systems Mapping that came into full force and effect on February 9, 2018.

After reviewing Provincial maps, it is evident that part of the EA Study Area has been designated Natural Heritage and/or Agricultural.  In particular, this is relevant to the lands to the south of Industrial Park Road on the east and west side of Elgin Street.

It should also be pointed out that the Wellhead Protection Area covers approximately 1/6th of the northeast portion of the EA study area. This includes Industrial Park Road North. This will have implications for expansion of the Industrial Park since it will restrict the types of industries allowed in those areas. While the D.M. Wills report does include a document outlining “Drinking Water Source Protection” (Page 79) it does not explain the implications for expansion of the Industrial Park.

In order to illustrate the issues and concerns as they pertain to the sewer system in the Industrial Park a compilation of maps and diagrams has been prepared.  It includes:

  1. Diagram of the existing SBS system showing the locations of connected businesses and identifying wet (high water volume) industries
  2. Clearford map showing the location of wet industries
  3. Diagram detailing D.M. Wills Option 4 for routing the proposed large bore sewer installation
  4. Satellite image showing Option 4
  5. Map showing the location of Natural Heritage areas
  6. Map showing the Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPA)
  7. Diagram summarizing how all these factors might impact development of the Industrial Park

View the compilation here Diagrams & Maps for Industrial Park

October 11, 2018 - Update on Correspondence With Clearford

Wilf Stefan, COO and Professional Engineer with Clearford Water Systems Inc. shared an email (Wilf Stefan Email To John Campbell) he sent to John Campbell (Reporter for Northumberland News). This email was in response to a news article covering the D.M. Wills Draft Environmental Assessment Report for the proposed Large Bore Sewer Extension to the Industrial Park (John Campbell Article). The EA presentation was made to the Cramahe Council-In-Committee Meeting held on September 18, 2018 (details of this meeting can be found below).

Overall this correspondence raised a number of questions and issues. In particular

  • Councillor Don Clark blamed the system design for all the problems stating, “it's just an accident waiting to happen”

CLEARFORD disputes this and further states that the township allowed industrial waste industries to connect to the SBS, when the system was designed for municipal waste only

  • South Roads Foreman Phil Kelly made the following comments regarding the SBS system
    • “It's been a nightmare right from day one,”
    • “The system is ... a ticking time bomb“
    • This thing is a disaster,” and was flawed from the start,
    • “bellies” have formed in the pipes and are “slowly filling up with solids” that impede the flow of sewage

CLEARFORD claims it has worked with the township to help resolve issues - at CLEARFORD's COST!  Mayor Marc Coombs and CAO Craig Brooks have NEVER mentioned that Clearford was absorbing the costs even though Mayor Coombs was specifically asked.

  • D.M. Wills Consultant Jackson said he hadn't seen a detailed cost estimate anywhere in the Clearford report. That's because CLEARFORD was only asked to do a flow rate study, and was never asked to provide a cost estimate for a sewer expansion.
  • CAO Craig Brooks kept the Clearford report from Council for almost 14 months. Furthermore, it was BURIED at the back of the 184 page EA Study report.

On October 9, 2018, in a phone call with COO Wilf Stefan P.Eng and CEO Kevin Loiselle of Clearford, it was revealed that:

  1. Clearford looked back through all of the original engineering plans, schematics, etc. concluded that NO WIRE was to be installed as part of the original construction. At this time it is not known where the wire came from. Here is a picture of the wire that was removed from the SBS system in October 2015 Picture of Wire Removed from SBS
  1. Clearford respects the Cramahe’s decision to follow a different path than the SBS, but they took umbrage with the township stating that the system was installed incorrectly.
  1. They said that it was total nonsense to suggest that the system was “a ticking time bomb”
  1. When asked about CCC (Canada Colours and Chemicals) bypassing their clarifier tank and sending cooling water directly to the SBS through a filter, Clearford stated “We would never have recommended that.”
  1. Clearford explained that to accommodate the Reflex/OAFVC facility, they installed separate tanks for sewage and for process waste water, so that all of the flow would not go into one tank and overload the system.
  1. When asked about costs to the township over the past number of years, Clearford explained that Cramahe did pay hotel & travel expenses for the Flow Capacity Report, but Clearford did not charge any engineering costs. There have been very few costs to Cramahe over the past 4 to 6 years.
  1. Clearford has been trying its best to help the township resolve issues with the SBS – all due to WET Industries being allowed into the “mix” by Cramahe Township.
  1. Clearford assisted Ultramar and Tim Horton’s with the engineering & hookups for their businesses. Their costs were no more than around $2,500.00. There were no costs to the township.
  1. One of the issues encountered with Tim Horton’s is that the number of customers far exceeded the expectations of the company, and this added extra flow that was not anticipated.

September 20, 2018 - DM Wills Presentation on EA for Industrial Park Sewer Upgrade

On September 18, 2018, Robert Jackson of D.M. Wills made a presentation to Cramahe Council regarding the draft version of their Environmental Assessment of Sanitary Sewer upgrades for the Industrial Park.  The PowerPoint presentation is available here

DM Wills Powerpoint Presentation

This was an introduction of the 184 page draft document that D.M. Wills has submitted to the Township of Cramahe for consideration (see link below).

D.M. Wills DRAFT EA Report on Large Bore Sewer Extension

After the presentation, a number of questions were raised about the Clearford Report (Appendix C of the D.M. Wills report) and the justification for a large bore sewer when a fix was supposedly available for the small bore sewer system.  Questions were also raised about the Waste Water Treatment Plant’s ability to handle the increased waste water flows. You can listen to the discussion here

During the discussion, Phil Kelly (South Roads Foreman) made an impassioned plea to replace the small bore sewer system describing it as a “ticking time bomb”. You can listen to his comments here

During citizen questions, Gritt Koehl asked about making it mandatory for businesses to connect to the large bore sewer system when it is installed.  The questions were specifically targeted at Councillor Don Clark who had publicly stated at a prior council meeting, that he would not support an extension of the large bore sewer system unless all properties (business and residential) abutting the extension were required to connect to the system.  Gritt also went on to confirm her understanding (from information presented during the meeting) that staff felt Clearford could not be trusted to design and implement a fix for the Small Bore Sewer system.  Listen to the discussion here

Here are the key points that came out of discussions after the presentation by D.M. Wills

Small Bore Problems

The Small Bore Sewer system has the following problems:

  • “Nests” or clumps of wire were discovered (suspected to be tracer wire) inside the 100 mm diameter pipe along Purdy Road. They were causing blockages.  They were difficult to remove.
  • Cleanouts were supposedly installed "backwards" by Clearford. Cramahe staff claim that it is virtually impossible to flush the installed pipes
  • There is supposedly insufficient slope in the Purdy Road sections of pipe
  • The South Roads Foreman claims that there are “bellies” in sections of the piping that accumulate solids thereby constricting flow. Flushing the pipes is a Band-Aid solution
  • High water flows from some businesses are pushing solids out of their clarifier tanks
  • The Township is “spending lots of money” to frequently pump out the business clarifier tanks
  • Despite Clearford’s claims that the current situation could be improved, there is “no confidence” in Clearford’s capabilities to resolve the problem.


Despite the fact that only 10 users are currently connected to the SBS system, the die was cast when Cramahe allowed “wet” industries to connect to the Small Bore Sewer (SBS) system.  Essentially the Township has painted itself into a corner. Now they claim that the only viable solution is to replace the SBS with a large bore (12 inch diameter or larger) sewer system.  The route being recommended by D.M. Wills is shown in the figure below

D.M. Wills Option 4 & Future Expansion

The question now becomes – how much can the Waste Water Treatment Plant handle and how much can the existing Large Bore Sewer piping handle (south of where the new connection will be made).  The second last slide of the D.M. Wills presentation indicates that future studies are required for “Downstream sanitary sewer analysis” and “WWTP capacity analysis”

At present the answers are far from clear.  The Township has been working to reduce or eliminate infiltration into the existing system.  So far they appear to have regained some capacity by repairing Burnham, Park and Cedar streets.  There are also plans to fix other identified sources of infiltration such as defective manhole covers.  In the short term, it is claimed that there is ample capacity to handle the existing businesses in the Industrial Park.  In fact CAO Craig Brooks claimed that they would welcome the additional bio solids since it would improve the function of the WWTP.

In the future any new development beyond what is already approved will require more capacity at the WWTP.  As new subdivisions come on line and more businesses are added to the sewer system, it is not known whether or not the existing piping leading to the WWTP will have to be increased in size as well.  To quote Robert Jackson “We don’t know right now how much development will exceed the capacity of the downstream pipes.”

According to D.M. Wills the current projected expenditure for the recommended option is roughly $4.5 million.  More than likely there will be additional costs in the future.

September 17, 2018 - Surprising Revelations From Clearford's Assessment of Cramahe's Small Bore Sewer Capacity

Public mention of the Small Bore Sewer (SBS) started to surface in 2017, right along with the proposal to extend the Large Bore Sewer (LBS) up to the Cramahe Industrial Park.  The public were NOT given any details of the problems with the SBS – just that the system was “at capacity”. Only after continually pressing the township for answers, were residents able to get minimal information that a “tracer wire” had come loose and had become became entangled in the piping causing backup in the system due to reduced flow. That is not the whole story though…

Cramahe Township requested CLEARFORD (the company that originally installed the SBS back in 2004) to do a “Sanitary Sewer Capacity Assessment” (SSCA) of the SBS. 

The SSCA report prepared by CLEARFORD is dated July 28, 2017.  Until being included in the draft D.M. Wills Environmental Assessment (EA) report attached to the September 18, 2018 Agenda, there was no mention of this report or its details in any Council Agendas or Minutes of Meetings.

Quotes from the Clearford SSCA Report

  • CLEARFORD WATER SYSTEMS INC. (formerly Innovative Water & Sewer Systems Inc.) has been involved in the design and construction of the Sanitary Small Bore Sewer System since 2004.
  • Cramahe Industrial Park was “originally designed as a “dry” industrial park – sewage collection and treatment for typical domestic or office-type wastewater only, not for businesses that produce process or industrial wastewater. However, the Industrial Park area has developed over the years to include businesses with industrial water processes (manufacturing and washing) and highway rest-stop type facilities (fast food and gas station).
  • Industrial processes and rest-stop type facilities often generate highly variable wastewater flows with large peak flows. It is possible that the actual peak flows exceed the design values.
  • SBS system was originally designed for an assumed number of employees (ultimately 373 people) in the Industrial Park, including a future sanitary SBS main along Industrial Park Road (south of Purdy Road), a future connection for the Big Apple at 262 Orchard Drive, plus a provision for 24 connected residences along Percy Street.
  • (Note: SBS main to Industrial Park Road, connection to Big Apple and connected residences along Percy Street have NOT happened.)
  • In early 2017, the Township approached Clearford to investigate capacity in the existing SBS system after issues were reported about the performance of the system.
  • Expansion of SBS servicing in the Industrial Park would provide an opportunity to redesign the existing system…New main could be sized to redirect large industrial flows away from the existing SBS main, relieving capacity in the existing main and potentially TRIPLING the total capacity of the entire SBS system. Capacity would then be created for business expansions, infill development, and greater sanitary servicing coverage for existing properties and new developments in the area. WE ESTIMATE THAT THIS OPTION COULD BE IMPLEMENTED FOR ROUGHLY $750,000 - $1.25 MILLION.

The Clearford report is available as Appendix C of the D.M. Wills draft EA report (pages page 115 – 123). (D.M. Wills DRAFT EA Report on Large Bore Sewer Extension)

Note that the D.M. Wills report is 184 pages and it takes a long time to download. To make it easier to view the Clearford report, it has been extracted from the D.M. Wills document and is available here Clearford Report (Appendix C of D.M. Wills Document).  It includes Appendix A (Property Water Records) and Appendix B (Property Information Sheets) but does not include Appendix C (Compiled Flow Information), Appendix D (SBS Hydraulic Design Sheets) nor Appendix E (As-Built Plan & Profile Drawings) 


From 2001 (Amalgamation) through to December 2014 (before the current Council was elected), there were discussions around extending sewers up to the Industrial Park. In 2003, a decision was made to go with a Small Bore System, because it was much cheaper and there was insufficient capacity at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

There are a number of questions that arise after review of the Clearford report

  1. Why did past Councils approve "WET" industries in the Industrial Park, when the Industrial Park was designed for "DRY" industries?
  2. Why was the July 28, 2017 Clearford Report not brought before Council to consider the options therein?
  3. Once it became known that there is very little capacity remaining at the Colborne Waste Water Treatment Plant - WWTP (maybe 200 residential hookups), why did Township Staff/Council continue to pursue proposed extension of the LBS up to the Industrial Park?
  4. Once it became known that the vacant lots in the Industrial Park are within the environmentally protected Well Head Zone, and that this would restrict the types of future development, why didn't Staff/Council re-evaluate whether or not to proceed with the proposed extension?
  5. How can the Township of Cramahe justify spending 4.5 million dollars on an extension to service ONLY TEN FACILITIES connected to the SBS?
  6. Why hasn't Cramahe Staff/Council considered Clearford's solutions to the SBS overflow problems, due to the WET industries? It would be more cost effective


  1. The WWTP does NOT have capacity for any expansion beyond what is already approved. The WWTP just underwent a $7.2 million upgrade, between 2010-2014, but that did not increase the capacity significantly. Why wasn't expansion considered at that time to allow for future development?
  2. The $4.5 million expansion is only for 10 businesses, with NO mandatory hookup for the rest of the businesses in the Industrial Park and any residences that exist along the proposed route for the LBS. This is completely unacceptable considering that sewer systems are built/maintained/replaced by user fees.
  3. Just by saying the sewer extension will allow for future expansion does not make it so, because at the other end there is not enough capacity for any future expansion - including The Big Apple!
  4. Vacant lots in the Industrial Park are within the Environmentally Protected Well Head Zone, with strict limitations on industrial/manufacturing processes. Where is the justification & business plan showing that allowable businesses are lined up? It's a moot point though, because there is no more capacity at the WWTP.
  5. The SBS could be redesigned (euphemism for "fixed") at a much lower cost. The redesigned SBS would meet the needs of existing customers and allow for future development - IF the WWTP ever gets expanded.

September 15, 2018 - Environmental Assessment of Cramahe Large Bore Sewer Extension to Industrial Park

D.M. Wills Associated Limited was retained by the Township of Cramahe to complete a Schedule B - Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) study to examine various sewer alignments to upgrade the sanitary sewers in the "Colborne" Industrial Park. They have now produced a draft version of their report (D.M. Wills DRAFT EA Report on Large Bore Sewer Extension) which will be presented to Cramahe at a Council Meeting on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - 7:00 pm

The report is 184 pages long and will require time to review in detail.  There are however some immediate questions that were originally raised when a compliant was filed with the Office of the Ombudsman (see below). 

In the D.M.Wills EA Study (Page v) the problem / opportunity statement (as provided by Cramahe staff) is as follows.

a) "The existing sanitary sewer network within the Colborne Industrial Park is at or near capacity. Therefore, a sewage network upgrade is necessary to maintain service to the existing customers within the Industrial Park, and which also allows for additional development within the industrial zoned lands.”

  1. Since when did the CRAMAHE Industrial Park become the COLBORNE Industrial Park?  The CRAMAHE Industrial Park is not located within the boundaries of the Village of COLBORNE. The Township's Official Plan Map Schedule A -1 shows the boundaries of Colborne. Go to the Township's website and look up Cramahe Industrial Park, and it is located north of the Village of Colborne.
  2. The "existing sanitary sewer network within the Cramahe (Colborne?) Industrial Park" is already connected to the main sewage system. It is not a self-contained system. So, it's not the industrial park that's at or near capacity. It's the Waste Water Treatment Plant - WWTP - that's at or near capacity. That FACT came to light in a D.M. Wills report on the subdivision being built on Durham St S.
  3. Citizens have repeatedly asked for proof that the small bore system is at capacity, and nobody has been given a straight answer by Council or Staff.  A complaint was even filed with the Ombudsman but was shelved until the EA/budget information became available.

c) "A sewage upgrade is necessary to maintain service to the existing customers within the Industrial Park".

How many customers are even connected to the sewers in the Industrial Park. Is it even half? According to the Clearford study only 10 facilities are connected to the system that was installed over a four month period in 2004. The rest opted out - including the Big Apple.

The following properties are known to be connected to the sanitary SBS system:

  • 263 Purdy Road – CCC Plastics;
  • 232 Purdy Road – Cramahe Fire Hall/EMS Building;
  • 203 Purdy Road – Cam Tran;
  • 209 Purdy Road – Cam Tran (formerly Cambro Lasertek and Grafton Utility Supply);
  • 32 Industrial Park Road North – Northumberland (Cheer) Waste Transfer Station;
  • 116 Industrial Park Road North – Real-Flex Solar/Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre;
  • 188 Purdy Road – Anixter Power Solutions (formerly HD Supply);
  • 292 Big Apple Drive – Durham Transport;
  • 301 Big Apple Drive – Ultramar (formerly Petro-Canada);
  • 289 Big Apple Drive – Tim Hortons.

So, at first glance, the proposed extension (which is projected to cost $4.5 million dollars), is to be done for approximately 10 customers.  Councillor Don Clark said that he would NOT support an extension unless ALL customers (residential and business), were made to connect. The reason for this is because a sewer system is supposed to be paid for & maintained by the USERS! If a pipe runs past a whole bunch of potential hookups, and they are not made to connect, then the costs escalate for the existing users - and that's the taxpayer!

c) "Which also allows for additional development within the Industrial zoned lands."

  1. How can they do any additional development without major expansion at the WWTP, which is at or near capacity.
  2. Mayor Marc Coombs said he believed there was capacity for 700 or 800 new customers. CAO Craig Brooks said no, there were maybe 200 hookups possible with the current WWTP.  So what is actually going on here?

Let's not forget that the WWTP just underwent a $7.2 million dollar upgrade between 2010-2014, but the capacity was not substantially increased.

So the 'millions of dollars' question is "Who is going to pay for all of this?"

October 30, 2017 Ombudsman Complaint - Sewers

When less than adequate responses were received from Mayor Coombs and the CAO (Craig Brooks) a complaint was submitted to the Ombudsman Office.  The complaint includes historical background on sewer decisions dating back to amalgamation of Cramahe and Colborne.

Ombudsman Complaint Regarding Sewer Project

When it became obvious that any sewer expansion plans were going to be delayed, an addendum was sent to the Ombudsman office.

Ombudsman Complaint Addendum

June 6, 2017 Delegation to Council Regarding Small Bore Sewer System

Alex Saunders presented a delegation to Council raising questions about the Small Bore Sewer system and the extension of the large bore gravity sewer to the Industrial Park. The delegation asked Council to pass a resolution to ask Staff to prepare a report on the issues raised. Mayor Coombs indicated that he had discussed the questions in the delegation with the CAO and would respond by email once he had all the information.

Alex Saunders' June 6, 2017 Delegation to Council

The following handouts about Sewer and Water rates were also made available at the June 6, 2017 Council meeting

Cramahe Water and Sewer Rates 2016 - 2022

Township of Cramahe Water and Sewer Information Sheet

March 12, 2017  Cramahe Water/Sewer Cost Comparison to Alnwick/Haldimand Water/Septic Costs for One Year Period

Why do municipalities want sewers?

Simple answer: you can cram a lot of people into a small space if you have sewers. 

Why did Alnwick/Haldimand say "NO" to a partnership with Cramahe's Waste Water Treatment Plant and Sewers project?

Simple answer: it's expensive to build, it costs taxpayers lots of money, and A/H wants to keep the Township as a rural community.

Water-Sewer vs Water-Septic

This document shows that Septic Systems have been around for a long time and have a good track record of dealing with household sewage.

History Of Septic Systems


Sewers have been an issue in Colborne since the early 1960’s.  In 1964, tenders were put out to connect Colborne residents to a sanitary sewer system.  The tenders were opened on July 15, 1964 and work progressed after that date.  In July 1970, sewer extensions were once again on the table as Totton, Sims, Hubicki and Associates (now Aecon) presented proposals to Council for the extension of sewers to east Colborne.

In 1974 sewers became a hot topic once again as the Township debated going with a proposal from Tri-Homme (Developer) or one from the provincial government for the installation of additional sewer capacity.  Part of the problem was that Council had decided that there would be no further residential development without sewers.  Since this put a significant constraint on developers Tri-Homme put a proposal together to install the sewers and additional treatment capacity which eventually would be turned over to the Village.  The Tri-Homme proposal was championed by the then Reeve - Delbert McLaughlin.  Rather than go with a provincial government proposal to install and operate the sewer system in perpetuity, the Village elected to go with the lower cost Tri-Homme option and had to assume responsibility for the long term care and control of the sewage system.

In the early 2000’s the Big Apple Theme Park owner expressed a desire to expand the facility with the attendant need for increased sewage disposal.  In response Cramahe Council issued amendment (10) to the official plan of the village of Colborne (By-Law No. 02-40) on May 7, 2002.  Prior to this amendment, the official plan stated that “municipal water and sanitary sewer facilities shall not be extended beyond the boundaries of the Village…”  In 2000, just before amalgamation the village council had added amendment (5) to the official plan that emphasized that “following municipal amalgamation (January 1, 2001) “municipal water and sewage services would not be immediately available for lands outside the former Village.” A major concern at the time was the uncommitted reserve capacity of the Colborne Sewage Treatment Plant.

The purpose of Amendment 10 in 2002 was to create policies to permit the extension of sanitary sewer services beyond the boundaries of the former Village of Colborne.  Any extension of these services “would be approved only after planning analysis and justification, with the objective of promoting the effective management of services.

In June 2003, Cramahe’s Municipal Council entered into an agreement (By-Law 03-46) with Innovative Water and Sewage Systems Inc (subsequently renamed Clearford) to design and build a small-bore sewer system to service the industrial lands instead of a traditional “big pipe” gravity sewer.  The logic was that installation costs were much lower and weeping beds would be eliminated.  Two new connections to the small bore system were made in 2015 and an additional connection for the new Fire/EMS facility was made in 2016.  As it turns out the Big Apple elected NOT to connect to the SBS system because it would have required a pumping station in order to get past a creek.

It wasn’t long before the capacity of the sewage plant had to be expanded due to residential development and the addition of industrial customers.  In August 2009, a contract for a sewage treatment plant upgrade was awarded to Thompson Rosemount Group at a special Council meeting.  It was based on receiving funding from the Build Canada Fund.  The effluent pipe (to Lake Ontario) for the plant was installed in 2010 and the plant upgrades began in 2011. The cost of the expansion was pegged at $6.375 million and Cramahe was approved for a $1.3 million low-cost federal loan to help defray its portion (1/3) of the costs for the plant expansion.

In April 2016 Craig Brooks (Manager, Lakefront Utility Services) presented his Operations Report on the Colborne Wastewater Treatment Plant. In the report he indicated “there is strong evidence of significant infiltration but this occurred somewhat suddenly in the fall of 2015.  The MOECC (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change) has also identified that the system is showing signs of moderate infiltration.  This infiltration could be systemic or concentrated in one distinct area in the distribution system.”  It is important to identify and eliminate infiltration sources in order to keep the inflow at or below the designed flow rate of the plant as specified in the Operating License.  As a result the Township is planning to do a comprehensive infiltration study throughout the wastewater system.  The issue is that infiltration is using up the useful capacity of the collection system and wastewater treatment plant.

Camera inspections and road conditions suggest that Park Road, Cedar Street and Burnham Street are likely places where sewer infiltration is taking place.  Hence there is an issue paper in the 2017 budget for the full reconstruction of these streets.  This would include rehabilitation of the roads, sidewalks, sewers and the water main.  An engineering study estimated the cost for this project at $3,200,000.

According to a 2017 Issue Paper "The small bore sewer system is reaching capacity and is limited in terms of the types of industrial/commercial opportunities it will support".  As a result the Township is planning to do environmental and engineering studies of a project to extend the large bore sewer system up Elgin Street, along Purdy and around Industrial Park Road.  

For a Township with a small tax base, Cramahe has significant costs associated with its sewer system.  When major rehabilitation work needs to be done it stresses the Township's finances. It is essential that any work on the system be supported by government grants.