Water Services

Most Simcoe County residents, including those in Barrie, rely on groundwater for their water supply. Collingwood is the only municipality that draws most of its water from Georgian Bay. As the population has grown, groundwater sources have become heavily burdened. This has led to proposals to pipe lake water to landlocked settlement areas. At present, the Collingwood-to-Alliston pipeline is the only intermunicipal water pipeline in Simcoe County, although an agreement has been signed for another from Alcona on Lake Simcoe to Bradford (see Map 2).

Collingwood to Alliston Pipeline

In 1995, Honda decided to expand its Alliston plant. To service the new plant, Alliston needed a new source of water. At the same time, Collingwood determined that it needed to sell the excess capacity of its proposed water treatment plant if the plant was to be affordable. This congruence of interests led to an arrangement to construct a water pipeline between Collingwood and New Tecumseth.

Given the small populations of both municipalities, coming up with the $28.3 million to fund the pipeline proved difficult. The capital financing arrangement included a $5 million grant from the Province and a deferral of payment by New Tecumseth to Collingwood for the water as well as loans from the Province's Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), the construction firm, SNC-Lavalin/ConDrain, and the Town of New Tecumseth. To ease the financial burden in the short term, New Tecumseth's payments increase over time. New Tecumseth must therefore add users to the system over time to break even.16 Negotiations are also underway to sell water to Essa.17

Planners originally intended to extend the Collingwood-Alliston pipeline eastward to Bradford West Gwillimbury. However, a deal to extend the pipeline failed in the summer of 2003 after Collingwood refused to approve it and the Province refused to become involved.

Alcona to Bradford Pipeline

Bradford's 255-hectare Community Plan Area 2 will add an additional 7,500 people over the next 5 to 15 years.18 Bradford West Gwillimbury officials state that water supply is the principal limitation on growth. Following the collapse of the Alliston-Bradford water supply scheme, Bradford West Gwillimbury studied other options. In September 2003, Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil agreed to construct a pipeline from the Alcona water treatment plant on Lake Simcoe to the Bradford urban area by mid-2006. Construction of the pipeline will be phased, with the pipeline being installed before the Alcona plant completes its three-phase expansion. The environmental assessment (EA) process is ongoing.19

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury has agreed to front the $28-$31 million cost of the pipeline. It anticipates recovering that cost through development charges.20 Innisfil has agreed to the project because it will allow the Town to expand lake water service to the settlements along the path of the pipeline (Lefroy, Gilford and eventually Cookstown) long before it would otherwise be viable. The Innisfil Principal Planner expects settlements close to the pipeline to grow considerably once lake water is supplied.

16. Town of New Tecumseth, "Collingwood to Alliston Water Pipeline," <www.town.newtecumseth.on.ca/pipeline.cfm>.
17. Mike McEachern, Mayor, New Tecumseth. Interview. December 5, 2003.
18. "Planning for the future... Council approves Community Plan Area 2 secondary plan." Bradford West Gwillimbury Times (12:38). September 20-27, 2003.
19. "Historic agreement between neighbours." Bradford West Gwillimbury Times (12:39) October 25 - November 1, 2003; "Innisfil, Bradford West Gwillimbury agree on water deal." Bradford West Gwillimbury Times (12:36) September 5-12, 2003.
20. "Frank Jonkman." Bradford West Gwillimbury Times. Website. <www.times.net/Jonkman.htm>.