President Fitzgerald brings wastewater concerns to Ottawa
November 28, 2019
St. John’s, NL – New Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) president Sheila Fitzgerald delivered an important message to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) while attending her first Board of Directors meeting in Ottawa — addressing wastewater has to be a priority.
“Our partners at FCM, the Federal Government and our Premier need to know what’s keeping our municipal leaders and their professional staff up at night.” says Fitzgerald. “Our members tell us that compliance with the federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER) is one of those things.”
WSER compliance has been a concern for many years in Newfoundland and Labrador. Finding a solution will require leadership and advocacy from all orders of government.
“My first official act as president of MNL was to reach out to Premier Ball and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment to stress the urgency of this issue. We need to work together and with the Federal Government.”
MNL supports the goals of the federal regulations. In order to meet them, more time, money and flexibility are required. MNL members are asking for another opportunity to apply for what is called “transitional authorization” (TA) under the regulations. A resolution on this came forward, and passed, at the organization’s AGM, held Saturday, November 16, 2019 in St. John’s.
“This week, our concerns were heard and validated around the FCM board table. Other jurisdictions shared experiences and interest in working together on making changes to how we are approaching wastewater and wastewater regulations in the country, so I’m optimistic, ” Fitzgerald said.
MNL called an emergency meeting on wastewater on September 6, 2019. More than 150 people, including representatives from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment and the province’s then seven Members of Parliament, met to discuss the WSER. MNL is advocating for more flexibility in the wastewater regulations. Specifically, a reopening of the transitional authorization application window so that our communities will have the opportunity to plan properly and with the right support for their wastewater treatment requirements. MNL is also advocating for more funding and funding explicitly dedicated to wastewater infrastructure. MNL has also joined FCM in their federal advocacy for a permanent doubling of the gas tax.
Municipalities Newfoundland & Labrador (MNL) was formed in 1951 as an umbrella organization mandated to represent and support local government in Newfoundland and Labrador. MNL represents the 275 incorporated municipalities in the province that service 89 per cent of the population and their more than 2,000 leaders.