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Saw this coming…city charged over Sewergate. Fines could go as high as $6 Million

 

Saw this coming…city charged over Sewergate. Fines could go as high as $6 Million

The other shoe has dropped in the aftermath of Sewergate. After issuing a work order last month for Hamilton to take remedial measures to clean up Chedoke Creek, the Environment Ministry yesterday formally charged the City with violating the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.

This after billions of litres of sewage flowed into Chedoke Creek and Coote’s Paradise over a four-year period after a gate on a combined sewer overflow tank malfunctioned.

The formal Counts read as follows:

Count 1 – (City of Hamilton) – During the period beginning on or about July 9, 2018 and ending on or about July 31, 2018, at or near Part Lot 19, Concession 2 Barton, in the City of Hamilton, and/or elsewhere in the Province of Ontario, did commit the offence of discharging or causing or permitting the discharge of a contaminant, namely raw sewage, into the natural environment, which caused or was likely to cause an adverse effect, contrary to Sec.14 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act, thereby committing an offence under Sec. 186 (1) of said Act.

Count 2 – (City of Hamilton) – AND FURTHER THAT, City of Hamilton during the period beginning on or about January 29, 2014 and ending on or about July 18, 2018, at Part Lot 19, Concession 2 Barton, in the City of Hamilton, and/or elsewhere in the Province of Ontario, did commit the offence of discharging or causing or permitting the discharge of a material, namely raw sewage, into or in any waters, namely Chedoke creek, or on any shore or bank thereof or into or in any place, which said discharge may impair the quality of the water of any waters thereby committing an offence under Sec.30 (1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act.

In response to queries from the Bay Observer, a government spokesperson said, “the ministry brings the matter before the court for its consideration and the court levies or sets the amount of the fine. The fine set can vary depending on the number and types of charges laid. In assessing a fine, the court will take into consideration the seriousness of the offence and whether or not it is a first or subsequent conviction.

Section 109 (2) of the Ontario Water Resources Act details the amounts/ranges the court could impose for any day or part of a day upon which the offence was committed:  s.109(2) Every corporation convicted of an offence described in subsection (1) is liable, for each day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues, to a fine of:

a.      not less than $25,000 and not more than $6,000,000 on a first conviction

b.      not less than $50,000 and not more than $10,000,000 on a second conviction, and

c.       not less than $100,000 and not more than $10,000,000 on each subsequent conviction.

Section 187 of the Environmental Protection Act details the amounts/ranges the court could impose for any day or part of a day upon which the offence was committed:  s.187 (4) Every corporation convicted of an offence described in subsection (3) is liable, for each day or part of a day on which the offence occurs or continues, to a fine of:

a.           not less than $25,000 and not more than $6,000,000 on a first conviction

b.           not less than $50,000 and not more than $10,000,000 on a second conviction, and

c.           not less than $100,000 and not more than $10,000,000 on each subsequent conviction

 In past situations of this type the fine can be mitigated by negotiating diverting some of the money that would have gone into the fine towards environmental remediation.

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