Montreal mayor gives Ottawa one week to settle sewage dump

In letter to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Denis Coderre challenges interpretation of laws invoked to suspend sewage dump

MONTREAL – Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has given federal environment officials one week to help break the stalemate over the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River.

In a letter sent to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq today, Coderre is challenging the interpretation of federal laws the government invoked to suspend the sewage dump that was set to begin this weekend.

Coderre describes the actions taken by Ottawa as abusive and inappropriate and called on Ottawa to give the go-ahead by next Friday.

He has previously said the work must be done between mid-October and mid-November and that delays could create serious problems.

The city wants to close an interceptor _ a large sewer used to feed wastewater to treatment plants _ to do maintenance work and relocate a snow chute located underneath the Bonaventure Expressway, which the city is converting into an urban boulevard.

This week, the federal government put the project on hold pending further, independent scientific analysis, saying it could not conclude from the information it had whether untreated wastewater to be released would be acutely toxic.

The mayor said in the letter that many other Canadian municipalities dump untreated sewage without any Environment Canada intervention.

Despite Monday’s federal election, Coderre believes the work being done by bureaucrats can be completed in a timely manner.

Documents show the federal Environment Department has been aware of the project since September 2014.

Coderre says the delay is neither in the interest of neither the public nor the environment and called the minister’s intervention “unreasonable.”