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Environment Hamilton and Sherman neighbourhood activists organize a Sunday morning 'Pollution Crawl'

By Kelly Bennett, CBC News Posted: Nov 29, 2015 7:07 PM ET
Last Updated: Nov 29, 2015 7:07 PM ET

Hamilton's first "Pollution Crawl" brought about 30 people out to Burlington Street on Sunday morning to learn about what's in and on the city's air, water and land.

What's in the air?

Lynda Lukasic welcomed about 30 attendees to a Pollution Crawl along Hamilton's industrial core on Sunday morning. She and others carried particulate monitors, which Lukasic's organization, Environment Hamilton, uses to measure Hamilton's air quality.

Lukasic talked about the "amazing potential" that the industrial parts of the city has.

Sherman Inlet

Jim Howlett has been a longtime environmental activist on the beach strip and was chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority for 17 years until this summer. He's attended decades of meetings about Randle Reef and Sherman Inlet, which he called a "hidden gem" as the tour stopped there.

He told a story of following a truck into the inlet once, only to find it dumping a substance that left an oily rainbow on top of the water.
Though it's been the port's plan and promise since the mid-1990s to develop Sherman Inlet in a similar vein to Bayfront Park, Howlett said, little has happened.

In Hamilton, "not only the water and the soil is polluted, but the politics is polluted sometimes," he said.

"The whole concept of Sherman Inlet becoming a revitalized community place" has fallen by the wayside while Randle Reef gets developed, Howlett said.

"The wildlife are waiting to get some of this back," Howlett said, "and they're not waiting too well sometimes."

Participants passed around photos of what Sherman Inlet looked like a century ago.

What the Port says

Not all of the sites visited and stories told on the crawl were on Hamilton Port Authority lands. But catching wind of the event, Hamilton Port Authority issued a statement to media highlighting several waste mitigation, energy reduction and habitat restoration initiatives the port has undertaken under an environmental stewardship aim.

The port is part of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan (RAP), said spokeswoman Larissa Fenn, as well as the Randle Reef project listed above. There are strict rules and monitoring for tenants, and it and some of its tenant businesses participate in an initiative that holds them to higher standards than just what's regulated, she said.

"HPA's mandate is to operate a commercial port, and that means attracting and supporting industrial uses," Fenn said. "We need to maintain our harbour industrial lands for the kinds of activities that create good jobs, attract investment, and relieve pressure on the residential tax base."
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