June 12, 2018
Mr. Akli Ben-Anteur
Water/Wastewater Projects Engineer
City of Greater Sudbury
Tom Davies Square
200 Brady Street
Sudbury, ON P3A 5P3
Dear Mr. Ben-Anteur,
RE: City of Greater Sudbury’s Water/Wastewater Masterplan
I am writing to you on behalf of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. We represent over 850 local businesses who employ approximately 43,000 workers. The chamber is the largest grassroots business association in our region and is recognized as the voice of business for Greater Sudbury. We appreciate the opportunity to provide input into the city’s development of the Water/Wastewater Masterplan (WWMP).
We encourage the city to engage in on-going consultation with the public and local businesses during the development of the WWMP. Such a project concerning an important resource like the community’s water supply and with projected costs of $1.3 billion deserves the debate and scrutiny that comprehensive consultation opportunities provide. We also encourage the city to prioritize fiscal responsibility by way of developing a sound and transparent financial plan that clearly lays out how the WWMP will be financed and what impacts it will have on the city’s fiscal health. The city should also consider the benefits of a demand-side management strategy to help reduce capital costs of the WWMP.
With combined capital costs of close to $1.3 billion over a period up till 2041, the WWMP will be one of the largest capital cost projects undertaken by the city in recent memory. Given not only the scope of the projected costs, but also the importance of the resource in question, the chamber believes the city should prioritize public consultations and encourage broader discussion with regards to the development of the plan. We appreciate that the city has previously held consultation sessions on June 2, 2014, June 3, 2014, and June 29, 2017 during the early phase of plan development, but it is our opinion that additional, ongoing consultation is needed. In addition, the most recent public consultation of June 29, 2017 did not provide adequate opportunity for community stakeholders to review and digest the roughly 1700 pages of the WWMP. Further opportunities for consultation, combined with a layman’s-language overview, will provide the public with greater clarity and understanding in order to allow for informed feedback, while at the same time building public confidence in the WWMP and contribute to its success.
Furthermore, we would like to highlight the need for a sound and transparent financial plan for the WWMP. With $1.3 billion in capital costs, the development of a financial plan for the WWMP should proceed with similar levels of transparency as other high-cost plans like the annual budget. The financial plan, which city staff have indicated is under development and expected to be ready in late summer, should clearly outline the impacts the WWMP will have on the city’s overall fiscal health.
We also strongly encourage the city to incorporate the benefits of a demand-side management strategy which appears to be absent from the report. Managing ratepayers’ demands should be a part of WWMP as much as the various projects outlined in the document. Encouraging better water consumption habits and providing opportunities for ratepayers to be more water-efficient can not only help protect our water resources, but may also reduce the need for capital expenditures, such as additional lift stations, and thereby reduce the cost burden on ratepayers.
Engaging with the local community and prioritizing fiscal responsibility are two principles that, if followed, will help make the WWMP a robust and impactful long-term investment.
We appreciate the opportunity to deliver the business community’s thoughts regarding the city’s WWMP and hope that the city will consider our recommendations as outlined in this letter.
Debbi M. Nicholson
PRESIDENT & CEO
cc Mayor and City Council
Ed Archer, CAO
Tony Cecutti, General Manager of Growth and Infrastructure