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City says it can’t guarantee completion of Chedoke Creek cleanup within province’s revised timeline

Chedoke Creek runs along Highway 403 in Hamilton.

Posted on March 15, 2023

The City of Hamilton says it’s eager to get cleanup work started following a four-year spillage of 24 billion litres of sewage into Chedoke Creek, but warned Friday it cannot guarantee completion within an “unexpected” revised timeline the province recently set.

Thursday, city council voted to appeal an amended provincial order for the Chedoke Creek Remediation project, which is expected to cost $6 million.

The amendment, from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), required the dredging project to resume as soon as possible this spring, and that the in-water portion of the dredging work be completed by Aug. 31.

Prior to receiving these amendments to the order, the city had until Dec. 31 to complete the in-water portion of the dredging work.

Nick Winters, head of Hamilton Water, said the revised order was unexpected and “accelerated the timeframe for the performance of operations in Chedoke Creek by four months.”

“The city doesn’t believe that the August 31st date will be achievable,” Winters said at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Nick Winters, head of Hamilton Water, said the revised order was unexpected and ‘accelerated the timeframe for the performance of operations in Chedoke Creek by four months.’

Winters said the city is appealing the order at the Ontario Land Tribunal, but admits “it could take up to three months to get a hearing.”

“At the same time, we’re also pursuing dialogue with the province to let them know about the challenges that we anticipate and we are hopeful that one of those avenues is going to result in a date that is more conducive to the city completing that work,” Winters said.

According to Winters, it has always been the city’s intention to take responsibility for the spill and to remediate the area as necessary.

“We would have liked to have had that work completed already, but we ran into some unfortunate delays during our attempts to dredge the creek last summer resulting from the attendance at the project site from individuals representing the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), and that ultimately led to the project being put on hold,” he said.

HDI representatives previously told CBC Hamilton they had asked the city for meaningful consultation about how the work may impact treaty rights and the environment. HDI’s lawyer, Aaron Detlor, said he had no intention of stopping the work, but wanted to monitor it.

Agreements with First Nations

Meanwhile, the city said in a news release Friday that it’s in the process of establishing environmental monitoring agreements with First Nations communities and has signed agreements with Six Nations of the Grand River, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and the Huron-Wendat Nation.

The HDI, who say they represent the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, has not yet signed the proposed agreement, the city said.

According to the city, there are other factors that are always present in any project of this magnitude, which could delay work.

These include:

  • Unpredictable weather.
  • Equipment factors.
  • Supply chain delays.
  • Workforce challenges.
  • Other unknown circumstances.

“The biggest unknown is how well the hydraulic dredging operations will progress and what equipment challenges might occur,” Winters said at the news conference.

He said the contractor that the city is engaged to complete the Chedoke Creek project is the same contractor that completed the Randall Reef dredging.

“Our contractors advised us that you never really know what could be buried in the sediment that you’re trying to remove,” Winters said.

“That could cause challenges with the hydraulic dredging operation. That could be something as simple as tree branches that are buried or large rocks. And when this equipment impacts those materials without knowing that they’re there, that’s going to slow down the dredging process and hopefully not damage the equipment itself.

“So ultimately, by changing the order deadlines, time has been removed from the project schedule that would have accommodated any of those challenges that that could and likely will be encountered,” Winters added.

City staff had advised the MECP as recently as Feb. 7 that the Chedoke Creek Workplan was scheduled to resume in June, with in-water dredging work to begin on July 17 and be completed by Oct. 31.


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