The agenda item at todays General Issues Committee meeting was a proposed hike in water and wastewater rates, but the topic turned quickly to the elephant in the room—the scathing report from the Ministry of the Environment regarding the sewage spill in Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise. Of particular sensitivity was the expression “do nothing” that was contained in the Ministry report. The writer of the report rejected a suggestion by a consultant the city hired that nothing be done to remediate the creek because once the spill had been stopped the water quality improved. The consultant also warned that dredging the creek could stir up contaminants and make conditions worse.
Hamilton water staff today told council that the “do nothing” report had not been adopted by staff and that they had been working closely with stakeholders like the RBC and Remedial Action Plan to come up with a remediation plan that would be supported by all. Hamilton Water Director Andrew Grice told council, “we don’t want to do something that is knee jerk and ends up being a band-aid solution. We will develop a clean-up plan with our stakeholders.” There is currently $3 Million set aside to get some of that clean-up plan started but Grice warned council that once the plan is developed, Council will be asked to provide more money top implement the cleanup.
The ministerial order released last week did not address the issue of whether the City will be hit with a fine for its role in the spill, but the possibility was on the mind of Coun. Brad Clark who suggested a meeting be held with Serge Imbrogno – Deputy Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. Clark said such a meeting might mitigate any punitive measure the Province could take.
Public Works General Manger Dan McKinnon said he would meet with the city manager to strategize a meeting with the Ministry.