Hamilton paused Chedoke Creek clean-up after Haudenosaunee request consultation
Published August 24, 2022 at 9:37 pm
Chedoke Creek clean-up is set to take a little longer than expected after Hamilton stopped their dredging operation after a request from the local Haudenosaunee, who had not been consulted prior to the operation.
Between January 2014 and July 2018 a bypass gate in the combined sewer overflow tank was left around 5 per cent open. Over 24 billion litres of stormwater runoff and raw sewage pumped into Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise during this time.
The City had no idea why the gate had been left ajar “despite extensive investigation.” The gate was shut when the city discovered it and council has since engaged more thorough inspection procedures.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) ordered Hamilton to clean up its mess in December 2020.
A whistleblower later leaked that city council had conspired to keep information of the leak out of the public’s knowledge, a decision that left ward councillor Maureen Wilson “in tears.”
The MECP and Hamilton have been working together since to create a remediation plan. The city plans to dredge the bottom of the creek to scoop out the sediment they called “nutrient rich.” They approved the final plan last August.
After lengthy debate Hamilton council decided to formally apologize for its mishandling of the leak. Numerous members including Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Councillors Sam Merulla, Brenda Johnson and Judi Partridge announced they will not seek re-election following the scandal.
Last month Hamilton hired Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc at the cost of $5.9 million to dredge the creek. Milestone was set to begin work this week at Kay Drage Park. However, it may be a while longer until Chedoke Creek is cleaned up.
Community members representing Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council showed up on August 18 and 23 at Kay Drage Park bridge. Milestone had been setting up a Dredge Material Management Area at the bridge.
The Haudenosaunee said they had not been consulted throughout this process and were :exercising their treaty rights to attend the site.”
The group, Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), on behalf of the HCCC, says they’re at the park to monitor the environmental impacts of the dredging.
The land subject to the dredging were granted to the Haudenosaunee through the Haldimand Proclamation and the 1701 Treaty Area of the Nanfan Treat.
The HDI claims Ontario does not have the authority to order the dredging while Hamilton says they do not have the authority to ignore the order.
While HDI said the have no intention to block the project, Hamilton has currently paused the work until further notice. There is no estimated restart date.
Hamilton claims it has engaged with other Indigenous groups and is working with HDI to get the group an Environmental Monitoring Agreement.
“City staff are continuing to meet and discuss options with all key stakeholders to determine best way forward that enables the City to meet the MECP’s requirements under the order,” Hamilton said in a statement.
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