Dear Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour.
This is a very short mid-April update focused only on the shoreline issue.
It is my obligation to educate as much as possible concerning Inner Harbour issues. This is major!
All the purple areas on the map are where Inner Harbour dredging is proposed. The turquoisy areas are where capping is proposed. The yellowy hatched areas are where revetment (large shoreline rock wall) is being proposed. This will radically change the Doug Fluhrer Park shoreline.
We remain very concerned about the proposed remediation project for the Inner Harbour shoreline. For the time being we are doing what we can to work behind the scenes to access more information as to the rationale underlying this project.
At this point we have a small working group trying to get access to the research reports upon which the proposed remediation plan is based.
A bit of back-story: Bob Clark of Metal Craft Marine alerted me to what was being proposed initially. Evidently all property owners along the Inner Harbour were alerted. I then contacted Dave Lawrence, the federal contact in charge of the file and was told that POSSIBLE procedures MIGHT involve things like dredging and capping. So I was actually quite shocked to see the map showing exactly where they are planning on doing that all laid out in the report to Council. Clearly, the plan was already formulated – not a question of POSSIBLE or MIGHT! That’s when I wrote my concerns in my April newsletter. Then Mark Ladan of CKWS contacted me for an interview. Then Jeffrey Giacomin, Chemical Engineering prof, saw the CKWS feature and contacted me with his serious concerns. I recommended that he do a delegation at Council which he did – along with 6 others. In addition to Bob Clark of Metal Craft Marine, there was Jeffrey Giacomin (Chemical Engineering prof and Canada Research Chair), Elvira Hufschmid (Environmental Ethicist), Lesley Rudy (Biologist/Turtle Researcher) and Mabyn Armstrong (Turtles Kingston), me (Mary Farrar) and Laurel Claus-Johnson (Mohawk Grandmother). The delegations were wide ranging and scary. Council was shocked.
Lisa Osanic put forward a motion to defer accepting the report. The report had suggested that the city cooperate with Transport Canada/Parks Canada by contributing $1-2 million to a $71 million plan for Inner Harbour clean-up. Lisa’s motion said Council needed more information before making this serious decision. She proposed a meeting to be held with the City’s Environment, Infrastructure, and Transportation Policies Committee (EITP) where someone from Transport Canada would be present to answer questions from Council and the public. Council agreed. We are waiting to hear when this EITP committee meeting will be.
According to Dave Lawrence, the federal contact, originally public hearings were slated for July. Somewhere in the background is an RFP (Request for Proposals) for some consulting firm to be hired. At this point we are confused as to whether this RFP is for the dredging work, or the public consultation process, or both. One of our group members is looking into this. Last heard, some public consultation was slated for May. Not sure if this might be the EITP meeting.
In brief, our concerns are the following:
a) dredging and capping would re-suspend contaminated particulate causing harm upstream and downstream. Jeffrey Giacomin says drinking water and swimming would be impacted.
b) revetment (putting those large rocks along the shoreline) doesn’t make sense for a couple of reasons. If it is to prevent erosion, it actually causes erosion when rain and wave action causes water to go between the rocks loosening soil. If the purpose is to prevent people from accessing the water, it doesn’t make sense because nobody goes in the water along that shoreline – except to get in and out of kayaks. So why spend 1-2 million needlessly.
c) A problem with the contaminants along the south shore of Belle Park is the storm sewer. When there is a storm surge raw sewage is dumped in the Orchard Street Marsh. It is cleaned up somewhat by the cattails. However, the surges keep re-digging up the contaminants, moving them along a bit and then redepositing them.
d) Currently Nature is doing an amazing job of burying the contaminants. Heavy metals combine with acids from rotting vegetation, sink to the bottom and bind with clay forming a paste of sorts. With the passage of time, the contaminants are being buried successfully. Dredging and capping would be like re-opening the Tannery creating more damage than leaving well enough alone.
e) No adequate rationale appears to be given as to why dredging, capping and revetment are being suggested. We have heard that a number of older studies (Terrapex2000, Thompson & Assoc 1997,property transfer assessment, April1998,) that “cleanup of the sediments was not recommended” “recontamination would likely follow any localized clean-up” “the environmental impact of sediment removal would likely be more significant than leaving them in place” The Executive Summary of the 2014 RMC Report gives no adequate rationale for dredging or capping. What has changed since these conclusions and the proposed contract for dredging at a cost est at $71 million?
f) We have no idea how the $71 million will be spent or how was that estimate arrived at?
g) Metal Craft Marine will have to shut down their business for two years. They employ 95 people.
Also Transport Canada has said they will not renew their lease to use slips in the water lots so the KingstonMarina will have to shut down. The dry dock will have to shut down.
h) The impact on the turtle population will be huge.
i) Most importantly, If Transport Canada really wants to deal with the contaminant problem, what needs to be done is to first clean up the brownfields on land and deal with storm sewer issues. Otherwise the problem won’t go away and will have to be addressed again down the road as more contaminant is washed into the river through underground water systems, both natural and man-made. This would seem like a huge waste of $71 million dollars of tax payer money.
For now we are trying to do what we can behind the scenes.
More information about the Council meeting is here: https://www.kingstonist.com/?s=Environmental+concerns+prompt+Council+to+defer+proposal+for+Kingston+Inner+Harbour
Here is the link to the Report to Council with a larger, more easily read map. https://www.cityofkingston.ca/documents/10180/38880743/City-Council_Meeting-10-2021_Report-21-107_KIH-Sediment.pdf/8fd7aabf-a8b1-7a3b-914f-04373c06bbd3?t=1617992334281
More to come in May – hoping we have access to the research very soon,
Wishing you all some happy sunshiny days.
Mary Farrar, President,
Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour