Posted on March 14, 2023
Ontario’s Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is giving the City of Hamilton until Aug. 31 to complete a clean-up of Chedoke Creek.
In an email to Global News, spokesperson Gary Wheeler said that the city has “no need to delay clean up activities” and that the city has been instructed to begin dredging the Creek as soon as weather permits.
“It is critical that the remediation work gets underway to improve the watercourse and return Chedoke Creek to its pre-spill condition,” Wheeler said.
In December, the ministry agreed in principle to give the city until the end of 2023 to complete the targeted dredging of the creek to prevent further ecological impacts to that waterway and the adjoining Cootes Paradise.
At the time, Cari Vanderperk, the city’s director of watershed management, revealed the extension in a note to councillors following dialogue with the ministry’s district manager and director over the “complexities, challenges, and delays” the city and its contractors have endured while executing the 2022 workplan.
However, Wheeler said that has now been amended by the province since “the city has obtained all of the required work permit extensions and renewals,” to begin.
The city has been under orders from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to complete dredging of the creek to alleviate environmental impacts following the release of 24 billion litres of untreated wastewater between 2014 and 2018.
The city hopes to remove close to 11,000 cubic metres of contaminated sludge through a $6-million initiative it originally said would take six months to do and be completed by the end of 2022.
However, the project encountered a stoppage via Indigenous demonstrators who contested improper consultation with the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), an agency representing the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.
The HDI, in previous communications with the City of Hamilton, said the Chiefs Council didn’t recognize the provincial government’s jurisdiction.
HDI spokesperson Aaron Detlor insists the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant treaty with the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee in addition to the Between the Lakes Purchase treaty with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation of 1792 are the agreements in play.
In October, the city asked the ministry to issue an order preventing the HDI from causing any further disruptions.
Detler says the last communication the group had with the city was a March 3 email from Hamilton Water director Nick Winters stating the city is proceeding with the operation.
“We’ve already got responses out, but they didn’t engage with us, Detlor said.
“They didn’t speak to us about the remediation,” Detlor said. “We’ve simply asked them to consider the impacts on treaty rights.”
He said the HDI is hoping for a good faith discussion from the city and the two other levels of government about how to go forward “to honor and respect” treaty rights that will be impacted by the remediation.
A City of Hamilton spokesperson told Global News staff have received the amended order and are “considering its option” for complying with the new timeline.