Thunder Bay-area trailer park violations lead to $33K in Ontario water fines

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More than $30,000 in provincial water fines have been levied against a Thunder Bay-area trailer park and its management for failing to comply with a series of requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.  

According to a provincial court bulletin, the drinking water system at Silver Springs Estates, in Gorham Township, is connected to wells that “are deemed to obtain raw water from a surface water supply”, and serve the park’s 66 mobile homes and approximately 150 residents. 

“For these types of systems, the owner is required to ensure a higher level of water treatment than would be required for a groundwater supply,” noted the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), in a statement. 

After the MECP determined that the trailer park had been treating raw water using only chlorination from 2013 to the end of September 2018, an order was issued to install and operate the required water treatment equipment.  

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While the trailer park’s equipment was updated in 2018 and 2021, the engineer’s report required after completing the work was never submitted, according to the court bulletin. Additionally, it was later determined that the water system alterations were not provincially compliant. 

During a ministry inspection on July 5, 2021, several infractions were noted at the trailer park, which led to charges against the system’s certified water treatment operator, John Gervis, owner and sole director of Water Quality Services.  

Inspecting officers noted that the conditions of a ministry permit to take water had not been met due to missing or incomplete records, and no water-taking data had been submitted to the ministry from Gervis. Additionally, distribution samples were not being collected and tested for bacteria in accordance with prescribed schedules. For instance, distribution samples for trihalomethanes, a possible carcinogen for humans, were not collected and tested during the second quarter of 2021. 

When ministry staff asked Gervis to provide missing information, they say he refused. When an order was later issued to obtain the missing information in October of 2021, Water Quality Services again failed to comply. 

Following a change in ownership of the drinking water system in April 2022, trailer park owner and former drinking water system owner, Walter Marchese, still failed to provide an engineer’s report, and the equipment alterations continued to be non-compliant, according to the court bulletin. 

Gervis and 10072923 Canada Inc. received the largest of the fines from the Safe Drinking Water Act violations. He was fined a total of $21,000, plus a victim fine surcharge of $5,250. 

Marchese was fined $12,000 as the result of two violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act and one violation of the Ontario Water Resources Act. He must also pay a victim fine surcharge of $3,000. 

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