City of Hamilton and 2 managers part ways; each had oversight of Chedoke Creek during leak

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Published September 24, 2021 at 7:43 pm

Two senior City of Hamilton employees, each of whom helmed Hamilton Water during the Chedoke Creek sewage leak, have parted ways with the city.

Multiple reports from Hamilton media portals on Friday (Sept. 24) stated that general manager of public works Dan McKinnon, who is a 27-year city employee, has retired. Hamilton Water director Andrew Grice, whose LinkedIn bio states he has been a municipal employee for 14 years, is also no longer with the municipal government. McKinnon preceded Grice as the director of Hamilton Water before becoming public works GM in 2016.

Both had oversight of the city’s water management between 2014 and ’18, when some 24 billion litres of sewage and untreated wastewater spilled into Chedoke Creek from a partially opened gate on a combined sewage overflow (CSO) tank. Water from the creek flows into Cootes Paradise, a breathtaking natural environment.

The city has begun a provincially mandated remediation of the sewage leak that is expected to cost $150 million.

There is no indication if the staff changes are connected to the Chedoke Creek cover-up. The ongoing clean-up also needed provincial approval. And McKinnon drew praise on social media Friday for being “so committed to this City.”

Timeline

Members of the public noticed solid waste turning up in Cootes Paradise and the West Harbour for years. The public was unaware that city council had received a report about the contamination before the October 2018 municipal elections. The concerns were verified in the fall of ’19 when a whistleblower flipped confidential city documents to the Hamilton Spectator.

In the wake of the news of McKinnon’s and Grice’s exits, Hamilton social justice activist Cameron Kroetsch wrote a Twitter thread on Friday that pointed out how the contamination of Chedoke Creek was kept confidential during meetings in August and September ahead of the 2018 elections. Kroetsch ran for city council in Ward 2, finishing 19.5 percentage points behind three-term Coun. Jason Farr in the vote on Oct. 22, 2018.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger was near the end of his first term during the summer and early fall of 2018. Ten councillors from that term earned re-election that year. Along with the above-mentioned Farr, Couns. Chad Collins (Ward 5), Lloyd Ferguson (12), Tom Jackson (6), Brenda Johnson (11), Sam Merulla (4), Judi Partridge (15), Maria Pearson (10), Arlene VanderBeek (13) and Terry Whitehead (Ward 8 from ’14-18, currently Ward 14) also retained seats.

Collins was elected as the Liberal MP for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek in Monday’s federal election, vacating his seat with more than a year left in the term.

The next election is on Oct. 24, 2022.

Merulla announced in January 2020 he will not seek a seventh term in Ward 4. Whitehead has also been on medical leave since early this spring.

Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green was part of the ’14-18 council. He resigned as Ward 3’s rep on July 17, 2018 to prepare for a move into federal politics.

The Chedoke Creek-Cootes Paradise leak was one of two health and safety scandals the city had in 2019. In February 2019, the city publicly apologized after it turned out a report about insufficient friction on the Red Hill Valley Parkway (RHVP) was ignored for more than five years. That was also under the purview of public works, and an inquiry into how that happened began in mid-2020.

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