pledge $30 million for cleanup in harbour
Tar blob a pollution hot spot
By Peter Van Harten
The Hamilton Spectator
Published January 9, 2006
Paul Martin's Liberals -- who now find themselves trailing
in election polls -- are promising $30 million for Hamilton
to help get the harbour off the list of Great Lakes pollution
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Tony Valeri says the money
would help cap the Randle Reef toxic coal tar blob beside
Stelco's Hilton Works. It is part of the 10-year, $1-billion
environmental cleanup strategy announced by Martin in
Montreal on Saturday.
"When you've got hot spots identified by the International
Joint Commission, you want to -- as a country committed
to environmental excellence-- provide the dollars required,"
he said. Other parties say they're skeptical of Liberal
promises of cleanup money coming at election time.
Conservative environment critic Bob Mills said the Liberals
have a dismal record -- ranked 28th out of 30 countries
rated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development-- in taking care of natural assets.
The proposed capping, dredging and containment of the
contaminated sediments in Hamilton Harbour is expected
to cost $90 million.
A nine-hectare, steel-walled island or peninsula would
be created between Sherman Avenue and Wentworth Street
and possibly used as a new docking pier.
Valeri said the $30 million in federal money should enable
Hamilton to bring the province, the city, the port authority
and other industrial stakeholders to the table with matching
The new funding for Randle Reef builds on the $35 million
committed for Hamilton in October for improvements to
the city's wastewater treatment system, said Valeri.
Marilyn Baxter, executive director of the Bay Area Restoration
Council, says she is "thrilled" with the new
pledge because containment of the Randle Reef area is
a high priority to get Hamilton Harbour off the list of
Great Lakes hot spots by 2015.
"It's the largest contaminated sediment problem
on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes," she said.
Millions of dollars from senior levels of government
are needed to bring the harbour up to a minimum cleanup
level and wipe out the pollution legacy created by years
of dumping, neglect and inadequate standards.
The timing of the Randle Reef project would depend on
when environmental assessments are completed.
Mills, the Conservative environment critic, said he is
"bitter" about having to listen to repeated
The Liberals have been promising to clean up Canada's
worst pollution hot spot -- the tar ponds in Sydney, N.S.
-- for a decade but nothing has happened.
Mills said the Conservatives favour prioritizing all
contaminated areas and committing long-term and stable
"I'm certain Hamilton will rate high on the list
of priorities," he said.
"You need long-term funding so that the province
and municipality know where they are going and can work
Wayne Marston, the NDP candidate running against Valeri,
said the Liberals only get motivated to clean up the environment
"It's a significant issue and should have been dealt
with a long, long time ago," he said. "They've
had 12 years and a number of surplus budgets and now they
want to spread it over another 10 years."
Jo Pavlov, the Green party candidate, said the Liberal
commitment is great news and shows the Liberals are finally
waking up to "green" issues in this election.
Tainted water problems at native reserves have also shown
that the deplorable state of water quality in Canada should
be a priority issue, she said.
"The Green party doesn't care who brings the money
to the issue, so long as it deals with the things that
really matter," she added.
The $1 billion promised by Martin on Saturday is spread
over 10 years and includes $500 million for Great Lakes
and St. Lawrence River cleanup projects.
About $25 million would go to clean up a dump site in
About $200 million would be spent on research on the
effects of human activity on ecosystems and $120 million
would be spent on a cleanup at Lake Winnipeg.