HCA wants lost green space shifted to industrial area

scotto

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Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator
_____________________________________________

Matthew Van Dongen
Fri Jan 25 2013 08:14:12

HCA wants lost green space shifted to industrial area


The Hamilton Conservation Authority is calling for a green oasis in the heart of the harbour's industrial area to offset a decision to axe parkland atop the Randle Reef pier.

Some harbour cleanup advocates were dismayed to learn last week plans for a new, $140-million shipping pier - designed to trap decades of toxic sediment - no longer include topside green space.

The original plan called for one-third of the 7.5-hectare containment structure to be naturalized; the latest version calls for the entire pier to be reserved for Hamilton Port Authority business and light industrial use.

RELATED: Public can weigh in on Randle Reef report

Roger Santiago, head of Environment Canada's sediment remediation unit, suggested last week more green space could be added across the harbour.

That's not good enough, said Jim Howlett, vice-chair of the HCA board.

"If you must remove agreed-upon green space from (the pier), at least put it back in the same part of the harbour," he said.

The board conducted a vote by email this week and approved a motion calling for the axed pier parkland to be replaced by at least two hectares of publicly accessible, naturalized land in the southeast corner of the harbour - specifically south of the ship canal and east of Sherman Avenue.

RELATED: Top-up from Ottawa puts Randle Reef cleanup in motion

Most of that area hosts heavy industry. But Howlett pointed to two potential sites that could be rehabilitated and "re-naturalized," including a pond on port authority land along Eastport Drive and Sherman's Inlet, a creek outlet into the harbour near Sherman that was partially destroyed by illegal fill dumping more than a decade ago.

The port authority has yet to fulfil a federal government directive to rehabilitate the inlet, but the cleanup is listed as a pending project in the recent Randle Reef environmental screening report from Environment Canada.

Santiago earlier told The Spectator the pier plan is still subject to a public comment process that ends in early February and a final decision on the uses for the capped structure isn't likely for several years.

The conservation authority motion, however, calls for a new two-hectare green space to be created on the industrial side of the harbour within three to five years.

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

Photo shows Sherman Inlet at the early part of the 1900's.
Photo by Jessie Dixon(1878-1938), Beach Resident, courtesy PreVIEW, Local History and Archives, Hamilton Public Library.
 

scotto

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#3
The forgotten harbour cleanup

Matthew Van Dongen
Thu Jan 31 2013


The forgotten harbour cleanup


Environmentalists are calling on the Hamilton Port Authority to follow through on a promised cleanup of illegally dumped fill that ruined a harbour wetland 12 years ago.

The port authority agreed to remediate Sherman Inlet in 2007 after a federal investigation showed its predecessor agency, the Board of Hamilton Harbour Commissioners, violated wildlife protection laws by filling in part of the remnant wetland in 2001.

But environmentalists, the conservation authority and the city all say they’re not aware of any cleanup taking place — and the port authority refuses to say whether any work was done at the polluted inlet.

“This suggests to me the port authority is not serious at all about Sherman Inlet,” said Jim Howlett, president of the Hamilton Beach Community Council and the resident who reported the dumping in 2001.

“I have been hoping all of the relevant agencies could work together to make this happen, even if it happened slowly,” said Howlett, who is also a HCA board member but shared his opinion as beach council representative. “At some point, this could end up in the courts.”

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigated the fill dumping but opted not to lay charges in 2007 because the port authority agreed to fix the fish habitat. The government was not able to say Wednesday if the investigation remains open.

The port authority later unveiled an almost $3-million plan to dig up contaminated fill, resurrect fish habitat and create a public access trail and fishing area. The proposal headed off threatened private prosecutions by a citizens’ group.

Five years later, it’s unclear if that plan will ever go ahead. Port authority officials declined to comment or answer any questions from The Spectator.

But according to the minutes of a December harbour restoration committee meeting, the port authority said all “agency-led” capital projects other than Randle Reef remediation will be deferred until 2017.

The Sherman Inlet project once included a steering committee, but it hasn’t met for years, said city harbour point person Mark Bainbridge. He said the city is waiting to hear whether the project goes ahead because the plan called for a combined sewer pipe to be redirected away from the inlet.

Councillor Sam Merulla, who participated in early public project planning, said he thought the Sherman Inlet plan was in “suspended animation.”

Although the project is the port authority’s responsibility, Merulla said council should “encourage some action on what is an important remediation project.”

Questions about the forgotten cleanup resurfaced after the conservation authority made a public plea last week for new green space in the harbour. New CEO Chris Firth-Eagland said he’s asked the port authority for an update on Sherman Inlet, but has yet to receive a response.

Howlett said the port authority could piggyback a Sherman Inlet cleanup on the $140-million Randle Reef project, which involves trapping decades of coal tar in a steel containment pier.

“The opportunity is there for them,” he said. “If they don’t use it, who knows if this will ever happen?”

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec
 

scotto

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Port Authority silence on remediation is wrong

Fri Feb 01 2013
Spectator’s View: Port Authority silence on remediation is wrong

Special to The Hamilton Spectator


The Hamilton Port Authority does itself no favours by being tight-lipped about the status of a promised remediation of Sherman Inlet, a harbour wetland that was ruined 12 years ago by illegally dumped fill. From its own experience, the port authority should understand that community concerns about the harbour are better met head on.

A private company could argue its plans for privately held lands are none of our business. That would be a public relations mistake, but it would be technically defensible.

But the port authority is not a private company. It is an agency created by the federal government, a self-sufficient non-share capital corporation under the Canada Marine Act. Its job is to govern our port, which is not privately held.

In 2007, the port authority agreed to clean up Sherman Inlet after a federal investigation found its predecessor, the Board of Hamilton Harbour Commissioners, had illegally filled in part of the wetland. Five years later, the status of the cleanup is unclear. The Spectator’s Matthew Van Dongen tried to get answers, but port authority officials declined to comment.

That’s unfortunate, because the port authority has, since its creation in 2001, done a decent job of distancing itself from the Harbour Commissioners, which ran our harbour strictly as a business, with little to no consideration of environmental and community concerns. The port authority has defined itself as a community partner, and demonstrated its sense of environmental responsibility through financial contributions to the harbour remedial action plan and through involvement in the $140 million Randle Reef remediation project.

It seems to make sense to include the Sherman Inlet cleanup with the Randle Reef plan, as suggested by Jim Howlett, the president of the Hamilton Beach Community Council and the person who reported the dumping in 2001. If connecting the two projects is not a reasonable prospect, it’s up to the port authority to explain why. If the Sherman Inlet cleanup has been delayed, tell us. Hamiltonians have a strong and direct connection with our harbour. Saying nothing on this issue simply heightens community sensitivity and increases concerns.

Lee Prokaska
 
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