Upper York Sewage Solution

York Region is pushing for a massive wastewater treatment facility. This facility will serve a massive increase in sprawl in the area, and will dump effluent into important water bodies.

2009 – York Region begins work on UPSS; Environmental Assessment (EA) process is started.

2010 – Terms of Reference approved. 

2014 – EA completed.

2016 – Ministry review completed.

Proponents submit Stakeholder and First Nations review.

Provincial Duty to Consult determined to have not been met.

2010 – Part of the UPSS project – the York Durham Sewage System forcemain twinning and pumping station modification work – is separated out and exempted from the EA process. Construction on this part proceeds.

Present – Waiting for a decision by the Province.

What's happening?

York Region is planning to increase its capacity for wastewater treatment. The rationale is that this is required to meeting a projected increase of roughly 150,000 in population by 2031.

A key aspect of this project that is important to recognize that it is more than the sum of its parts. The EA for the project, on its own, does not capture the impacts the wastewater treatment facility will have on the region.

While the impacts of the wastewater treatment facility on its own are of concern, the knock-on impacts of increasing capacity for development in the area, which is what this project accomplishes, cannot be separated out from the wastewater treatment facility itself. One leads to the other.

Quick Facts

Inadequate First Nations Consultation

Effluent Contains Pharmaceuticals

Impacts to Aquatic Ecosystem

Why is it a concern?

Lack of Consultation with Georgina Island First Nation

The duty to consult with First Nations that has not been fulfilled.

Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation Chief, Donna Big Canoe, has outlined concerns that the project would infringe on hunting and fishing rights, and stated that the province and region have not done enough to explore alternative solutions.


One of the biggest problems with this project is the financial justification is not on solid ground. This is a major reason why, as the thread embedded below outlines, the Region has had a on and off approach to implementing it.

As the thread notes, York has put a lot of money into servicing areas closer to the GTA, but the development in the area didn’t materialize to the extent that justified this cost, putting York deep in the red financially.

The UYSS, however, is intended to service an area to the north, bordering on the southern shores of Lake Simcoe.

There is the potential for increased development that this project opens up, as mentioned above. Without a strong commitment to build complete communities, and to focus on the sustainability of the region those communities are situated within, this project simply doubles down on business as usual for developers in the GTA, which is to build cheap sprawl on farmland.

Protect Lake Simcoe

Learn more about the threats facing Lake Simcoe and take action to protect it.

Currently, approximately 3 out of 5 residents in York Region commute more than 30 minutes each way to work every day, and just under 1 out of 5 drive more than an hour.

While York is starting to work towards increased intensification, it is important that its ability to direct growth beyond these areas remains constrained. The Region, for example, states that towards the end of the anticipated planning period to 2041 employment growth will shift towards what are currently less populated, and less integrated in the regional urban fabric, ares of Georgina and East Gwillimbury. It also states that additional urban lands will be required to accommodate forecasted growth.1York Region: Preferred Growth Scenarios – 2041

The capacity of the UYSS is 1/3 unfilled through 2031, allowing for continued growth through the projected lifespan of the facility.

How Can You Get Involved?

  1. Learn more about the threats facing Lake Simcoe and take action.
  2. Share your concerns on social media.
  3. Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed on developments with growing the Greenbelt and limiting sprawl.

Links to Further Reading

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