Ministry backs away from pre-set date with St. Catharines Council

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Published September 28, 2022 at 11:58 am

The current condition of the lands at 282-285 Ontario St were to be updated by the MECP staff at tonight's Council meeting but the Ministry has backed away from attending. (Photo: St. Catharines)

The derelict properties at 282-285 Ontario Street in St. Catharines has long been a thorn in council’s side as clean-up attempts at the two sites have been slower than the city would have preferred.

It got to the point where the Province had to be brought in to monitor progress and set standards for clean-up that the owner, a numbered corporation, would have to match.

In fact, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) was going to speak to Council tonight (September 28), bringing with it the updated results of its monitoring except that officials backed out yesterday less than 24 hours before the meeting.

Mayor Walter Sendzik found the last-minute cancelation “incredibly disappointing and frustrating.”

“This meeting to update Council was set a month ago. To be cancelled at the last minute is unacceptable,” he said.

The problem is St. Catharines has neither the ability nor equipment to properly monitor or test industrial sites.

“It’s not our jurisdiction. It’s the responsibility of the MECP to work with owners of former industrial sites to monitor remediation work,” Sendzik noted.

“It’s the responsibility of the MECP to provide updates to ensure any issues that might have an impact on surrounding neighbourhoods and watercourses are being addressed.” Since council will remain in the dark as to any developments on the site, so too will nearby residents on Ontario St.

The property owners of 282-285 Ontario Street say that work has been undertaken since last November to address issues identified by the MECP from previous monitoring reports but the city has no way of knowing what real progress has been made.

“We have no way to verify how effective it has been to address some key areas of concern raised by the Ministry in previous reports to Council,” continued the mayor. “That’s the role of the MECP and now Council and our community are left with more questions than answers.”

Sendzik said he will be contacting Minister David Piccini’s office to emphasize the importance of community updates at the site and will also have St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, the only Conservative member in Niagara, to get the results from the MECP released “as quickly as possible.”

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