Tribunal Denies Appeal of Sewage Treatment Permit

The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal has rejected Alex Rheault’s request for leave to appeal the issuing of an amended permit for the old Minaki Lodge sewage treatment plant.  The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks had issued the amended permit in March to allow Bob Banman and Bob Schinkel’s 198-unit trailer park on the Lodge site.

The request for leave to appeal, prepared in a collaborative effort by year-round residents of the town and the Conservancy, asserted that MEPC should have required that water quality baseline studies, now thirty-two years old, be updated, and that additional filtration of plant effluent should be required before the effluent flows directly into the Winnipeg River.  A report from R.J. Burnside and Associates, the Toronto engineering firm that has worked with the residents and the Conservancy since 2013, backed up those points.

The rejection is not a surprise, as the Tribunal’s standard of review is tilted sharply in favor of Provincial Ministries.  Under that standard, Alex’s application had to show that no reasonable person could have made the Ministry decision.  Still, since baseline studies are required under the MEPC’s own rules, and since additional filtration is now a common addition to the old treatment process in the plant, we thought it unreasonable for MEPC to refuse to include them.  The Tribunal’s decision adopts MEPC’s counter that the size of the Winnipeg River will cure all ills, and that the amended permit, while it could be better, is good enough.  The decision is available by clicking here.

Despite this result, the Conservancy and the residents will continue to stay on top of the proposed trailer park development, striving to lessen its dreadful impacts on Minaki’s rare natural environment and special community culture.

Thank you,

The Minaki Conservancy Board