Hamilton and Ontario re-revise Chedoke Creek clean-up deadline


Published March 15, 2023 at 12:08 pm

The deadline for cleaning up Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise has been moved for the third time, with Hamilton and the Ontario government splitting the difference.

The city announced today (March 15) that the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has agreed to extend Hamilton’s deadline to complete dredging works at the site to Oct. 31. That is two months later than the deadline the province imposed two weeks ago, which Hamilton Water explained that it could not guarantee due to operational challenges.

“I want to personally thank the provincial government for addressing the (city’s) concerns,” Mayor Andrea Horwath said in a media release. “I appreciate the collaboration of City staff, MECP staff, (Environment) Minister (David) Piccini and his office with myself and my office that resulted in the revised order. All of us want to see the remediation of Chedoke Creek completed as soon as possible and this new cooperative timeline will allow that to happen.”

The new deadline appears to fall within a timeframe that Hamilton Water director Nick Winters outlined last fall. Winters said last Oct. 11 that Milestone Environmental Contracting, which won the $5.94-million tender to do the work, would work between July 17 and Oct. 31 of this year. Some of the uncontrolled variables include water temperature, weather, supply chain issues, and federal protections of vulnerable species’ habitats. Damage to dredging equipment is also an ever-present concern.

“(The city’s contractor have )said, ‘you’re always going to encounter something,’ ” Hamilton Water director Nick Winters said during a media briefing on March 10.

The MECP ordered the clean-up in late 2020, about 12 months after the bombshell revelations about the #Sewergate scandal. In late 2019, a Hamilton Spectator report revealed that some 24 billion litres of stormwater runoff and raw sewage had been pumped into a unique and sensitive ecosystem in Hamilton due to a bypass gate in the combined sewer overflow tank being left about 5 per cent open for more than four years — between 2014 and ’18. It was detected and corrected prior to the ’18 municipal election cycle.

The initial deadline given to the city by MECP was Dec. 31, 2022. Last August, representatives of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, asserting treaty rights within the water system, arrived at the site amid stalled government-to-government negotiations in regard to funding Indigenous-led environmental monitoring of the dredging work.

Six Nations of the Grand River, the Mississaugas of the Credit Nation, and the Huron-Wendat Nation, whose traditional territories also include land and waterways managed by the City of Hamilton, have signed environmental monitoring agreements with the city.

The re-amended Chedoke Creek remediation order is publicly available at hamilton.ca.

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