Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel – How We Got Here

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On October 27, 2016, the project team of the Ottawa River Action Plan Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) hosted an information session at the conclusion of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) Annual General Meeting.

The display panels that were presented at the Oct. 27 meeting are now available online: please click here.
Click here to view a video of the information presentation the CSST team gave on Nov. 16.

In light of a number of concerns and questions that arose over the course of that meeting about the history of the project, I wanted to provide a summary of the background and next steps.

Background

2009-2014

In 2009, the City launched an environmental assessment to study the concept of building storage tunnels to address sewage overflows. City Council included the sewage storage tunnel project as the cornerstone of the Ottawa River Action Plan (ORAP), which it approved  in February 2010. Upon completion of the environmental assessment study, a staff recommendation to approve the sewage storage tunnels including the  Stanley Park portal location, was considered by the Environment Committee on Jan. 15, 2013 and unanimously approved by City Council on Jan, 23, 2013. I am not aware of the steps the Ward Councillor took to engage and inform the community during the study period and at the time the issue was before Council.   

2015-2016

I first became aware of the project in May 2015 and immediately requested a briefing. When I questioned why a portal needed to be located Stanley Park, the project team claimed it was required in order to link the proposed tunnel with the existing sewage interceptor at that location. Furthermore, it was not obvious to me why the excavation could not occur at a different site. I therefore asked the project team to determine the feasibility of changing the extraction location to the west side of the Rideau River given the closer proximity to official truck routes and the reduced impact on residential communities. City staff conducted an analysis of my request in the summer of 2015. The disappointing conclusion of the analysis was sent to me in a technical memorandum stating that moving the excavation site would cost an additional $5-8 million and result in an increased project length of 9-15 months. The project team stated it was not prepared to pursue a changed location to the already approved works due to these estimated increases in cost and project length.

Concerned that the project would have a significant impact on the community, I informed the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) board of the project at its September 2015 meeting [Correction: previous version stated October 2015] and shared the public materials the project team had prepared. I wrote about the project in the October 2015 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

I explored further mitigation options. In March 2016, I requested that the project team investigate the opportunity of shifting excavation operations to another portal site at Laurier and Nicholas avenues.  Again, I was told it was not feasible within the approved project parameters. Later in the spring of 2016, I toured the proposed construction site with staff with the goal of reducing the size of that area affected by construction staging.

Over the course of 2016, I provided verbal updates to the NECA board on the project and wrote again about the CSST in the June and October 2016 editions of the New Edinburgh News. In addition, I included project information in my monthly email newsletters and on my website.  In consultation with the NECA Board, I requested that the project team conduct an information session with the community, which was organized concurrently with the NECA AGM last week.

At the NECA board meeting on Oct. 18, 2016, before the CSST information session, I announced my intention to facilitate a CSST Citizens’ Working Group (in co-operation with NECA) to provide residents with an opportunity to work more closely on specific project details and explore mitigation measures ahead of and during the project construction.  I understand the newly elected NECA Board will consider the governance of such a working group at its first meeting, including whether such a working group should function as a NECA sub-committee.  

Next Steps

I remain committed to work closely with NECA, the community at large and the project team to ensure that all possible measures are taken to review all elements of the project in order to maximize safety and mitigate the impact of the construction of the combined sewage storage tunnel project on New Edinburgh residents.

On a separate track, the project team has noted that there will be opportunities for enhancements to the park as part of the post-project rehabilitation.  What the community would like to see through that process is something I will work closely with NECA and the CCC to determine over the course of the project.  

I plan to meet with staff next week and again look at possibilities for moving the main excavation location. I have heard that at least one resident was provided with different cost estimates at the information session for moving the main excavation portal west of the Rideau River than the figures that I was provided. This needs to be clarified.

I appreciate that this project represents a challenge to New Edinburgh and its residents. I will continue to do my utmost to represent your interests at City Hall and support the community through this process.=

Historique du projet de tunnel de stockage des égouts unitaires

Le 27 octobre 2016, l’équipe responsable du projet de tunnel de stockage des égouts unitaires (TSEU) du Plan d’action de la rivière des Outaouais (PARO) organisait une séance d’information à la clôture de l’assemblée générale annuelle de la New Edinburgh Community Alliance. Étant donné qu’un certain nombre de questions sur l’historique du projet ont été soulevées pendant cette séance, voici un résumé du contexte et des étapes à venir.
 

Contexte

2009-2014
En 2009, la Ville a entrepris une évaluation environnementale afin d’étudier la possibilité de construire des tunnels de stockage qui limiteraient les surverses d’eaux usées. Le Conseil municipal a alors fait de ce projet la clé de voûte du PARO, qu’il a approuvé en février 2010. Une fois l’étude d’évaluation environnementale terminée, le personnel a recommandé le 15 janvier 2013 au Comité de l’environnement d’approuver la construction de ces tunnels, notamment la construction d’un portail dans le parc Stanley. Cette recommandation est unanimement approuvée par le Conseil municipal le 23 janvier 2013. J’ignore quelles mesures le conseiller de quartier a prises à cette époque pour informer la population et recueillir ses commentaires pendant la période d’étude et au moment où la question a été présentée au Conseil.  

2015-2016
C’est en mai 2015 que j’ai pris connaissance du projet; j’ai alors immédiatement demandé qu’on tienne une réunion d’information. Lorsque j’ai voulu savoir pourquoi un portail du tunnel devait être installé dans le parc Stanley, l’équipe de projet m’a répondu que ce portail était nécessaire pour relier le tunnel proposé à l’égout intercepteur situé à cet endroit. Par ailleurs, il n’était pas évident pour mois pourquoi l’excavation ne pouvait pas avoir lieu ailleurs. J’ai donc demandé à l’équipe de projet d’étudier la possibilité de déplacer le lieu de l’extraction sur la rive ouest de la rivière Rideau, un emplacement plus près des routes officielles pour camion et moins gênant pour les résidents. Le personnel de la Ville a donné suite à ma requête en menant une étude pendant l’été 2015. Les conclusions décevantes qui en sont ressorties m’ont été communiquées dans un document technique, lequel indiquait qu’un changement de site d’excavation entraînerait des coûts supplémentaires (de 5 à 8 millions de dollars) et rallongerait la durée du projet de 9 à 15 mois. L’équipe de projet a affirmé qu’en raison de cette augmentation des coûts et de la durée du projet, elle n’était pas disposée à changer l’emplacement des travaux déjà approuvés.
Inquiet des importantes répercussions que pourrait avoir le projet sur la population, j’ai informé le conseil d’administration de la New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) du projet lors de sa réunion de septembre 2015 [correction : la version précédente indiquait « octobre 2015 »] et j’y ai distribué les documents publics que l’équipe de projet avait préparés. J’ai également écrit un article sur le projet dans le numéro d’octobre 2015 du New Edinburgh News.
Je me suis alors mis à la recherche d’autres stratégies d’atténuation. En mars 2016, j’ai demandé à l’équipe de projet d’étudier la possibilité de déplacer les activités d’excavation à un autre portail, situé à l’intersection de l’avenue Laurier et de la rue Nicholas. Une fois de plus, on m’a dit que ce n’était pas faisable dans les paramètres approuvés du projet. Plus tard, toujours au printemps 2016, j’ai visité avec des membres du personnel l’emplacement proposé du chantier, avec pour objectif de réduire la superficie de la zone de préparation des travaux.

Pendant l’année 2016, j’ai verbalement rendu compte à la NECA de l’avancement du projet et j’ai écrit d’autres articles sur le TSEU dans les numéros de juin et d’octobre 2016 du New Edinburgh News. J’ai également donné des renseignements sur le projet dans le bulletin que j’envoie tous les mois par courriel et sur mon site Web. En consultation avec le conseil d’administration de la NECA, j’ai demandé à l’équipe de projet d’organiser une séance d’information pour le public, séance qui a eu lieu la semaine dernière, en même temps que l’assemblée générale annuelle de la NECA.

Lors de la réunion du conseil d’administration de la NECA du 18 octobre 2016, avant cette séance d’information, j’ai annoncé mon intention d’animer un groupe de travail sur le TSEU formé de résidents (en coopération avec la NECA) afin de donner à la population la possibilité de s’intéresser de plus près à certains aspects du projet et de chercher des mesures d’atténuation avant et pendant les travaux. On me dit que le nouveau conseil d’administration de la NECA examinera la question de la gouvernance de ce groupe de travail dès sa première rencontre et décidera notamment si le groupe de travail doit agir en tant que sous-comité de la NECA. 

Prochaines étapes

Je reste résolu à travailler en étroite collaboration avec la NECA, l’ensemble de la collectivité et l’équipe de projet afin que tout soit mis en œuvre pour étudier les différents aspects du projet et ainsi optimiser la sécurité et réduire les répercussions de la construction sur les résidents de New Edinburgh.
Dans un autre ordre d’idée, l’équipe de projet a signalé que les travaux de revitalisation qui auront lieu à la fin du projet seront l’occasion d’améliorer le parc. Je collaborerai donc pendant la durée du projet avec la NECA et le Crichton Community Council afin de connaître l’avis de la population à ce sujet. 

J’ai prévu de rencontrer le personnel de la Ville la semaine prochaine pour étudier à nouveau la possibilité de changer le lieu d’excavation principal : j’ai en effet entendu dire qu’au moins un résident avait obtenu - lors de la séance d’information - des chiffres différents de ceux que l’on m’avait donnés, en ce qui concerne l’estimation des coûts du déplacement du portail du site d’excavation principal à l’ouest de la rivière Rideau. Nous devons essayer d’en savoir plus.
 
Je suis conscient que ce projet est un enjeu de taille pour New Edinburgh et ses résidents. Je continuerai donc à faire de mon mieux pour représenter les intérêts de ces derniers à l’hôtel de ville et appuyer la population tout au long du processus.
 

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Comments

CSST

I am still in shock but after 41 years of living in New Edinburgh, am aware that our park and in fact any ark is a magnet for multiple uses other than the quiet enjoyment of its residents and in fact people from all ver the city. The park was to have been an extension of the Vanier Arterial 40 years ago, an extension that would have closed any access to the river. Five years ago the park was closed to allow for remediation which during the course of the wrk became instead a park with a foot of new topsoil. The topsoil was to protect the community from the contamination in the soil. The NCC at the time said it was necessary because people could become ill if they were exposed to these substances. The ark was also fenced off to ensure that children and residents could not dig in the park i.e. no more gardens encroaching into the park to ensure their safety for the same reasons. We were all asked to sign a document that "we would not dig in the park" by the NCC. Now not only is there a major dig about to take place which will destroy the peaceful enjoyment of the environment for years but the NCC s also complicit in this decision. It is good to have long memories as it seems various government departments do not.

" I am not aware of the steps

" I am not aware of the steps the Ward Councillor took to engage and inform the community during the study period and at the time the issue was before Council. " More excuses. I do not believe you have done even remotely enough to make and keep residents informed of this issue. This is more than just a "major project" as you called it in your NEN article. The responsibility is on you to bring the information to the people. A couple of lines in the summer edition of the NEN is hardly sufficient. For the vast majority of residents, the CSST was first raised during the community meeting to discuss the Junction Committee, and that was said in passing as though everyone in the room should have known what you were talking about. Your article in the NEN states, "In 2017, a large portion of Stanley Park will be cordoned off, given that it will function as the eastern access point for the tunnel. The odour control facility located in Stanley Park will also be rebuilt" No one could have envisioned what this reference meant. Being that we're all used to the annual Spring upheaval of the municipal crews in and around the boat launch, I believe most of us assumed the construction would be contained to that area - I certainly did. No one could have envisioned the total chaos and destruction that is planned. This is at your feet.

Tunnel

Thank you for providing this background information. I was at the meeting the other evening and appreciated the opportunity to speak with presenter and listen to his explanation of the engineering requirements that led to the decision to locate the shaft in the park. I would like to know the reasons the costs are so much higher on the other side of the river. The explanation he gave me was that it would require two shafts being built one on either side of the river. But later at home, I wondered why you couldn't have one shaft and tunnel in both directions? I wouldn't have thought the gradient would be a big issue on such a short distance. I'm sure there is an explanation for this, but understanding the engineering obstacles would help. I like everybody else in the neighbourhood dread the thought of 4 trucks an hour, for 15 hours a day, for 2.5 years moving through the neighbourhood. Regards, Julia Chandler

Memo on alternate extraction portal costs

Here is a link to the memo Tobi received in July 2015: http://www.tobinussbaum.ca/sites/default/files/Alternate%20extraction%20portal%20cost%20memo%20-%20July%2021%202015.pdf . As Tobi noted in his blog post, the project team was not prepared to recommend changing the extraction location given the cost increases and time delays associated with that option. It is important to note that even if the additional extraction location had been agreed to, the project approved by the previous Council in 2013 foresaw a shaft and related staging area in Stanley Park. This is due to the location of existing infrastructure (a sewer interceptor that runs east-west under the Rideau River, and a north-south collector sewer under River Lane) that are to be linked to the new CSST pipes. The CSST as approved in 2013 was to provide redundancy for the existing sewer interceptor to the east side of the Rideau River. Therefore, the question of an additional portal in Bordeleau Park was focused on the extraction of tunneled material from the portal and trucking it away closer to truck routes, but would not have eliminated the requirement for a portal in Stanley Park. Tobi has asked City staff to capture the technical details including cost breakdown in written form so that it can be shared with the community. As part of that detailed memo, staff will also be providing updated cost estimates for moving the extraction portal to the west side of the Rideau River and the option of a mid-shaft extraction site that Tobi had also previously asked staff to analyse.

question regarding impact to park and volume of truck traffic

First of all, I am happy that the city is going to fix the sewage discharge into the Ottawa river. My questions regarding the project are the following: 1) Will the skating rinks, soccer field or baseball diamond be impacted by the project? 2) How many trucks will be leaving the site per day for how many days? From the documentation, the volume of the tunnel is 43000 m3, and typical dump is 10m3. Does that mean 4300 trucks going in and out of the neighbourhood.

Park impact and truck traffic

Hello Steve, The skating rinks, soccer field and baseball diamond are not within the area that will be affected by construction for the CSST. Regarding trucks, a detailed operational plan (including the truck route and duration/frequency of trucking) has yet to be finalized. Initial information suggests that 15-20 metres of tunnel could be dug each day resulting in possibly 4 trucks leaving the site per hour. This is subject to change and we will keep the community informed through Tobi Talks and updates in the New Edinburgh News and other forums. Trucking is expected to occur throughout 2018. A project schedule will be available shortly and we will share it. -Team Tobi

csst

Hi Toby, I have been a resident (187 Mackay) of New Edinburgh for over 20 years. I love the area and plan on being here for sometime. I had heard rumblings of the csst over the past while, but no details of the impact to the community were ever discussed. I feel that the City has tried to slid this past us with as few details as possible. As a taxpayer and resident we were not given an opportunity to have any input on how it effects out community. I think that a lot of the residents feel betrayed by you and the city staff. I would like to see a copy of the feasibility study done to move the excavation site closer to Kingedward. The details must be available if the study truly exists. Sincerely, David Arnold

Stanley Ave resident

Tobi, thanks for this update. I was not aware that the excavation would be taking place at Queen Victoria. I cannot believe that our neighbourhood will be turned into a major construction zone and all that entails for as long as 30 months. Not acceptable! I have been a resident at 141 Stanley for the past 24 years. I moved here specifically to be by the park and to enjoy the peace and beauty it offers. To lose this for any period of time, and the threat of damage to our 110 yr old townhouse, is quite distressing. How would I access my property from Queen Victoria and the park? How does one find peace with non-stop truck traffic? I urge that the plans be changed so that New Edinburgh is not subject to the worst of this engineering project. It should not be taking place in a heritage zone community. The cost to the community--and to the individuals who live here and enjoy the park--will be too great. Thank you Robert Mundie