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City looking for clarity on Environmental orders for Chedoke Creek and Cootes

 

City looking for clarity on Environmental orders for Chedoke Creek and Cootes

Last month, the City of Hamilton was served with a Provincial Officer’s Order from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP) related to the 2018 discharge into Chedoke Creek. After reviewing the Order, the City approached the MECP to seek clarity on the Order requirements and additional time to adequately complete the tasks set out in the Order. MECP gave the city a little wiggle room on developing the plan but were firm on their order that the work be completed by the original October 31 deadline.

Today city public works staff issued a statement:

The City will be moving ahead with the work outlined in the Order and do its best to mitigate any potential challenges that may arise in completing the work under the prescribed timelines, which likely includes obtaining the required permits from all levels of government before beginning the dredging of the creek. Once permits are obtained, dredging is expected to take several months, weather dependent.

Timelines for the order require the City to have a remediation plan to the MECP by February 22, 2021 and for all remediation be complete by October 31, 2021, which requires the City to obtain permits from the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks, and Transport Canada.

Given the conversations the City has had with MECP officials to date regarding the order, the City remains confident Ministry officials are open to providing guidance and additional options to the municipality should the City of Hamilton experience delays with permitting, dredging work or challenges interpreting the order.

The City will continue to cooperate with the Ministry to the best of our ability as we have since reporting the discharge in 2018, and seek clarity on what specific work needs to take place and what specific water quality standards we are being asked to meet.

Timeline of recent events related to the Orders:

  • November 20, 2020 – City receives Provincial Officer’s Order from the MECP. The Order requires the City to submit a work plan outlining dredging for Chedoke Creek, and a report outlining remediation plans for Cootes Paradise by January 22, 2021. Additionally, a work plan and implementation plan related to the remediation of Cootes Paradise would be required within five weeks of the Cootes remediation plan being approved.
  • November 25, 2020 – City requests a review of the Provincial Officer’s Order to seek clarity on what specific work needs to take place and what specific water quality standards the City is being asked to meet under the Order. The City also asked the Director to consider if eight weeks is a reasonable time frame to adequately develop a plan that meets the MECP’s expectations.
  • December 4, 2020 – City receives Director’s Order from the MECP, which is in response to the request for review of the Provincial Officer’s Order. The MECP extended some deadlines outlined within the original Order, but did not extend the overall time required to complete the work.
  • December 9, 2020 – City receives charges from the MECP related to the discharge into Chedoke Creek (Charges are separate from the Orders. The MECP uses a number of tools to achieve compliance with Provincial environmental legislation)
  • December 16, 2020 – City accepts the MECP’s Director’s Order and begins planning for the work outlined in the Order.

Additionally, the City is actively involved in a Chedoke Water Quality Evaluation Study. Independent to the work in the Order, the study has identified short-term and long-term operating, capital and policy work that will improve water quality within the entire Chedoke Creek watershed. This work is being done in collaboration with the Bay Area Restoration Council, Conservation Halton, Environment Hamilton, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, Indigenous Water Walker representatives, Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Royal Botanical Gardens (with MT Planners, Consultant). More information on this study will be shared in February 2021.

To date, in response to the discharge into Chedoke Creek, the City has taken a number of actions including:

  • Undertaking clean-up of the creek, including removing 242,000 litres of “floatable material” from the surface and edge of the creek.
  • Initiating regular monitoring of water quality in certain areas of Chedoke Creek.
  • Initiating and implementing enhanced inspections of wastewater facilities and equipment.
  • Undertaking expert studies to determine whether further remediation is appropriate for Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise.
  • The approval of four new staff members to increase the City’s ability to perform regular, routine physical inspections and preventative maintenance for City water infrastructure, as well as one staff position for sampling and analyzing surface water quality in Hamilton.

The city has spent about $650,000 on preliminary cleanup and received an estimate on the dredging of about $2,2 Million, but costs are expected to be significantly higher depending on how much dredging the Ministry requires in Chedoke Creek and what sort of remediation will be needed in Cootes Paradise.

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