Up the creek

Vivry Creek that is. Without sufficient water supply or sewer capacity, this project is literally up the creek. We need to address those issues and negotiate a fair and balanced cost to add the capacity needed to sewer and water so that a new development doesn’t cost existing taxpayers more money.

Nicanco’s Pine Beach proposal is, in my opinion, a great opportunity for Hudson and an necessary part of our future. It’s been in the works since 2001, much has changed and so needs to be adapted to today’s reality.

When it was first conceived and zoned, there was no sewer system in Hudson and we thought we had lots of water capacity. The original project approved was based on a shared septic plan. Without a connection to our treatment facility, I’d argue against this current planned expansion of the original zoning. I think it would be a bad choice to accept 200+ units on shared septic in such land at water’s edge.

The capital structures of sewer and water are very different in Hudson, so by necessity we need to treat them separately. Today I’ll opine on the sewers and what they should cost the project and not the taxpayers.

The debt for the sewer network and our Brick Shithouse Treatment plant are currently funded by only those who can be connected to the sewer network, approximately 900 ratepayers listed in something called Annex A. It is my opinion that those Annex A taxpayers need to have a say in approving the connection of a proposed 316 new units to the network and treatment.

We were told we had 20-25% overcapacity in the design of the treatment plant, and this Pine Beach development would be approximately a 35% increase in connections when fully built.So clearly, approving Pine Beach will, at some point in the planned seven year completion, require a significant and expensive expansion of our sewage treatment facility.

I don’t have the exact numbers, but I believe the Brick Shithouse Treatment plant cost approximately $8,000,000 to build and commission, divide by 900 connections and you get approximately $8,900.00 capital cost per home served. I believe expansion will be less costly than a new build, so I’ll call that 60% to add capacity and round it to $5,250 per connection.

In my opinion, we need to ensure that Hudson’s Sewage Treatment Network gets funded for an average of $5,250 per unit so we can expand it and maintain some overcapacity. These are hypothetical numbers and smarter people than me need to review and adjust them. I would propose to divide that average per connection cost into a habitable per square foot permitted to build cost, so if the average unit on Pine beach would be 1,600 square feet of habitable living space, the cost to fund sewage treatment would be $ 3.28/ Square foot. 

I chose to propose a per square foot cost on the builder when the building is approved for several reasons:

  1. To ensure that we’re funded early and progressively, without asking for a pile of money from the developer  up front.
  2. We get paid up front from the builder when a permit is issued to build, based on actual plans. If they didn’t have sewage treatment they’d have to pay to install septic and couldn’t build as many units.
  3. To impact larger homes with larger costs and allow smaller condos with fewer bathrooms and occupants to have a smaller impact.
  4. The funds so generated can be clearly segregated and allocated to a fund for Sewage Treatment expansion.

I’m betting that these units will sell for in the range of $300/square foot and a town willing to extend their existing sewage treatment plant for approximately 1% of a unit’s cost is not going to kill a sale.

Please note that it will remain the responsibility of the developer to provide collection, piping and pumping to get the sewage from Pine Beach to the pumping station by the community center. I’d like to see a twinned system, so that if a pump or pipe on the way to our system fails we have enough capacity to avoid overflows into the Ottawa River.

This is just one idea, but it’s simple and clear. We need to stop the post development financial bleeding we’ve had in the past where we’ve had to pave roads that developers should have paved and absorbed other costs.

Keep it simple, recognize that development might be necessary, but development should not cost existing users to spend more so we can add a development.  I believe that we need to name the price for sewage treatment capacity up front as a condition of approving the project requiring connection. Not just on this project, but any future projects that wish to connect to our existing sewage treatment capacity.


18 thoughts on “Up the creek

  1. Good work, pragmatic suggestions, all doable if Hudson’s current administration chooses to listen to some good advice.

    My two cents:

    I now doubt the project will be allowed to connect to the Beach Road sewage pumping station. Nicanco would have to be grandfathered into the CA for emergency overflow into the Viviry currently confined to the Manoir’s 100 doors. It has already scrapped its application for a line under the tracks, which tells me someone had a cheaper, faster solution less likely to be turned down.

    I think Nicanco proposes to run a line west on its own land north of the tracks, then across town land (Nesbitt’s former property) to intercept the main collector on Wharf and feed directly into the BSH. Voila, no emergency overflow into the Viv. If there is an emergency, it will most likely be the result of the BSH’s inability to handle the total volume of sewage being produced by everyone connected to the system.

    So total capacity concerns should be a priority in discussions between Nicanco and the town.

    There’s a paragraph in the project synopsis handed out at last Thursday’s meeting. It’s under the heading of the project’s benefits. It reads:
    • Business feasibility of the investments associated with the construction of the water treatment plant.

    Clearly, Nicanco recognizes the town has a potable water problem and has made some overture to the municipality to help finance a solution. It may be a proposal to draw and treat lakewater with a new pumping station. If so, it should be part of a larger discussion that includes the cost of added sewage treatment capacity and not just for Nicanco’s project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You may want to revisit “Business feasibility of the investments ………………….water treatment plant” with Marc Perrault. I asked him specifically about this after the info meeting. He said it should have read “sewage treatment plant”.

    I believe it behooves this council to get their facts straight before starting the rezoning process for Sandy Beach, namely:
    1. Will the existing sewage treatment plant have sufficient capacity to connect ALL buildings on Sandy Beach? Will there be any excess capacity for additional hookups?
    The original tender for the sewage plant was under $6 million – with extras it may have been more.
    2. What can council ask of Nicanco in exchange for another zoning change? Deeper servitude on the beach; parking lot for “beachgoers”, etc..?
    3. Does the agreement with Graham Nesbitt permit a sewage line to cross the property formerly owned by him but now owned by the town? If memory serves me correctly, the town is not permitted to do do anything on this property on the other side of the street from the snow dump and sewage treatment plant. I
    4. Nicanco maintains it will cost the citizens of Hudson nothing to allow this zoning change to proceed. The elephant in the room is insufficient potable water for any new developments. Is it not the responsible thing to secure an adequate water supply first before venturing into any new developments?

    I am confounded by the assertion that the town reversed its stance on the western section of Sandy Beach in 2013. I do not recall a notice of motion or revision of the zoning bylaw to reduce the number of floors from 3 to 2. Does anyone? I asked Diane Piacente about this and she doesn’t remember doing so …………

    I would be happy if council proposed the following after they have answered the above questions:

    1. Preserve 75% tree cover in the eastern section of Sandy Beach and leave the # of homes that can be built there to 5 NOT 6.
    2. Integrated project in the centre to permit 100+/- townhouses.
    3. Two three-storey buildings in the western section limited to 55 units each (same as existing zoning). Please drive by the new Hudson Gables building that is going up in the centre of town. That will have 12 condos on three floors – now imagine a building with 9 times that many units – that is massive……………..!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liz,

    I agree on three stories, in fact I’d support and favour smaller footprint 4 story buildings wider spaced if they were possible. And I’d trade that for a wider protected beach zone and some public parking.

    I’m concerned by the Eastern part of the beach that’s casually been called of no use. If it’s of no use, why isn’t it part of the perpetual servitude? Or might they have future plans for something there?

    I have had a quick reply from a Councillor who states that the original Pine Beach project was factored into the design capacity of the sewage treatment plant?

    Does that match your facts? Or are these alternative facts?

    Was there an engineering document somewhere during the tender process listing the design capacity?

    Thanks for your insight into this, it’s a valuable resource.


    1. yes – the sandy beach project was factored into the treatment plant capacity as was the failed senior’s development off Charleswood


  4. Very interesting proposal Peter. We can agree that some kind of development can occur on Sandy Beach and that the re-zoning should not be rubber stamped. The layout is flawed though. For simple reasons, sewers are not just for the flushing toilets but also for the additional hardscapes and cleared areas that will result in increased stormwater runoff. All these proposed engineered solutions (sewage treatment expansion & Water treatment facility for taking water out of the Lake) you have mentioned have long-term costs that will be passed on to future taxpayers.

    We can get the density with a sustainable site plan that will save the wetlands and keep a treasure for the citizens and new residents of Sandy Beach. Pine beach is in Dorval.

    Nicanco or the town need to do a very simple computation to see how peak flows will be altered by the 100 year storm. Its called the rational method. Here is the equation:

    Q=A X C XI

    Q=discharge in cubic feet per second
    A=Area in acres
    C=Coefficient of runoff
    I=intensity of rainfall in inches or feet/hour

    This can certainly be done before any approval.

    The Co-efficient for the existing landscape is probably in the area of 0.20 for woodland. That would increase to 0.75 under Nicanco’s current plan for multi-family.

    The intensity of rainfall for the hundred year storm, I would use the 1987 storm as my benchmark.

    Until this very basic analysis is done we can’t really discuss capacities of our engineered systems in place because we are removing an ecosystem service and replacing it with an engineered one.

    We can agree that development can happen on this site, that it can be something beautiful-but until the project does basic scientific analysis of impact from increased stormwater runoff, the currently proposed layout shouldn’t be approved.


  5. Jamie,

    Storm water run off is not generally handled by a sewage treatment plant.

    I presumed it would be collected in the usual storm drains and output to the Lake of Two Mountains or Creek? Am I missing something?

    The more we understand of the concerns the better compromise we can reach on layout.

    Would you favour fewer higher condos (4 story) spaced further apart as a trade for fewer townhouses and a wider buffer to beach?

    Thanks for your comments,


    1. Great question. Is it a combined sewer system being proposed or a separate? If it is a separate system then we have to look at the impacts increased runoff will have from stormwater. If it is combined we have to determine whether the treatment can take that capacity.

      As for fewer higher condos, it would depend on the placement, design and how it would blend in with the context of the site. I wouldn’t outright say no. I think there’s a compromise solution. What I wouldn’t compromise on is outright destruction of ecological function. I owe it to my kids to tread carefully there.


  6. According to the COBAVER/McGill report : at present, the quality of the riparian buffer (IRBQ) along the lower Viviry on the site is excellent. How will the development affect that? Suspended solids and Phosphorous levels are already spiking at the site from upstream. Lets determine how the development will affect water quality in the Viviry before we approve anything.


  7. Jamie,

    I guess I could not conceive of running storm drains through treatment when a new infrastructure is being put into place.

    I’m unlikely to read 41 pages of a 2004 project that’s outside my core competency and interest and be able to draw a simple valid conclusion.

    That said I’m not disinterested. I’d be interested in your view of why a developer would choose to develop this way and why and what the net benefit or costs to the developer (short term) and the town (long term).

    As one of the vocal leaders of that side of this discussion, has anyone found incentives at the Federal or Provincial level that a developer might find it more interesting to be long term sustainable? If not I suggest you form a small group of like minded citizens and drag Peter Schiefke into front and center on how to make this project better for both the developer and the town.


  8. I’d like some general discussion on excess Sewage Treatment capacity:

    Given we have a certain amount of excess capacity available, designed in and apparently some of it allocated for Sandy Beach project, some of it allocated for R-55 (Seniors Zoned ares off Oakland) and some of it critical to Ellerbeck’s plan if he ever gets it approved.

    So, when a developer comes with a project, should they pay for the capacity they will use?

    I maintain that the excess capacity is an asset currently funded 100% by Annex A Sewer debt shareholders, and therefore treatment capacity has a dollar value. Especially where it’s being used to expand the number of doors on a project for developer economics.

    We have many existing areas that need to be connected to sewers for existing environmental reasons. If we give away all of our overcapacity we might not be able to fund more capacity to connect areas like R-55, Birch Hill, Ellerbeck.

    Should we give away capacity we’re not currently using to allow development, or is that a short sighted approach that will leave us at capacity needing to invest to enable future connections?

    My feeling is that we shouldn’t give it away, but charge a value related to the cost of adding the connection capacity back when we authorize a new development to be connected.

    Are we not obligated to treat each developer the same? We must develop a position and policy for these cases so that we’re not out of pocket later and not giving away what we don’t need to just to enable expansion of development.

    Thoughts from those willing to comment?

    I have asked Council to make a clear statement on

    1) Design capacity of current Treatment plant
    2) Total addresses currently connected (Those eligible but not connected are paying anyway)
    3) Current highest flow as worst case related to connections at that time (best determinant of % of maximum capacity being used).
    4) Estimated surplus capacity after Pine Beach is fully populated.

    Not sure we have these numbers, but 100% sure we need to know them.


    1. It would be nice if Trail were consulted on this. He knows the exact numbers on capacity. Every one of your points needs attention , Peter. I can’t believe they even had an information meeting w/o going into this and the water supply. I am just not confident there’s anyone there at the Town right now who can answer to these very important issues.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Brian: I would love trails input too, a 40 year veteran of this city undoubtedly is the missing key. However, Queen know it all, Ms. I can run a town perfectly all by myself – Catherine Hullard -did possibly the most amazing bridge burning job with Trail Grubert I have ever seen in my life. In office 6 months and puts a 40 year employee in a “consultant” position before telling him to tell his story walking. It wouldn’t surprise me if he never spoke to another administrator in town again, and I have wondered since day one what it would take to make things right with him again and am honestly surprised I have not seen a more valiant effort on the part of council to do so. 40 years of service to be told to follow the illuminated exit sign is nothing short of appalling.

        But I digress and apologize for changing the subject.


  9. Storm sewer and sanitary sewer pipes are separate in Hudson. No storm drainage is supposed to flow to the sewage treatment bldg. I guess the Sandy Beach dev. will have to find a way to the Ottawa River for its runoff. The Town owns the Viviry corridor so I can’t see an outfall on that stretch. The Jack Layton Park blocks the river for Mr. Muhlegg from draining in that direction. That pretty much leaves the beach for any outfall. My guess is there will be no subsurface drainage on this built site. All surface drainage which makes the contouring very interesting to avoid using those protected wetland bio-zones as catch basins for all the salt, oily parking lot slime, and basement discharges that will be headed in their fragile direction. How much run-off is an inevitability of hard surfaces . The where it ends up and the course it takes interests me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Absolutely. The power of negotiation is a critical point here. You are absolutely right in what you say. I’d like to see decorative LED streetlights negotiated into the deal at his expense as well, I wonder if storm drains can be negotiated into the plan as well… That would take care of the run off that has concerned some people. I think we are underutilizing the power of negotiation in this deal. You want from us? Well, we want from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. In a community known for old British cars, known leakers of oil, the oily parking lot slime is a key issue.

    Seriously: Thank you for this simple understandable explanation that a simple person who hasn’t read the megabytes of Green Bibles can understand.

    I can see more of where the passionate sustainable developmenters are coming from and understand hard surface versus natural drainage. We’re adding our stuff to the run-off on a fragile chunk of land fronting the river. Currently rain and snow melt finds it’s way to the river without picking up a lot of human added stuff.

    Days gone by, we’d just collect it and poke a hidden pipe downstream of the development and let Vaudreuil Dorion deal with it if they had to. As a community wanting to be green and evolving towards more responsible development we need to understand better and manage better.

    Worst case, other than the ethical issues, If we do a bad job, and it affects V-D water quality we might wind up on the legal hook to treat all that run-off water too?

    Not sure it’s reason to block the development, but certainly these issues are of real value. to the long term and the project needs to be put on the environmental rack to make sure no obvious corners are being cut.

    Liked by 1 person

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