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Harbour Lands project still waiting for provincial go-ahead

Work has not been done on the harbour lands, now under the city's purview, as it is still waiting on the province to approve its plans for the site. The city is required to convert the property to parklands under an agreement with the federal government, when it gave the land back to Oshawa in 2010.

Work has not been done on the harbour lands, now under the city’s purview, as it is still waiting on the province to approve its plans for the site. The city is required to convert the property to parklands under an agreement with the federal government, when it gave the land back to Oshawa in 2010.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The harbour lands remain as is because the city is still waiting on approval from the province in the next step toward achieving the record of site condition, The Oshawa Express has learned.

In the second of a series of steps toward redeveloping the severely contaminated harbour lands, the City of Oshawa is currently working to achieve a certificate of property use (CPU) after the city’s risk assessment was completed last summer.

In an emailed statement, spokesperson Gary Wheeler of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change explains the ministry is currently revising the draft CPU based on comments from the city on a first draft

According to Wheeler, the CPU formalizes the steps that will need to be taken to mitigate the risks of existing contamination (detailed in the city’s risk assessment) from affecting future development.

“The accepted risk assessment successfully demonstrated that appropriate risk management measures can effectively mitigate the risks posed by historic activities on the harbour lands,” Wheeler says.

Previous studies have identified the lands and groundwater are heavily contaminated with heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons. The city attempted to mitigate this with the installation of a low permeability cap in the north end of the site, which was previously home to a city dump. The lands were also previously used as a site to dump contaminated material dredged from Lake Ontario. The federal government had previously spent $9.2 million on cleaning up the mess.

Acquisition of the CPU, however, is not the final step in the process in gaining provincial approval, Wheeler explains.

“Once the CPU has been issued, the city can submit a record of site condition (RSC) using the property specific standards developed in their risk assessment,” he says.

“Once the RSC has been acknowledged by the ministry, the former industrial lands can change to parkland use.”

Converting the property to parkland use is only one of the many requirements Oshawa must meet under an agreement with the federal government that gave ownership of the waterfront property back to the city in 2010 (Oshawa received the final section of the 48 acres in 2013).

The other being the creation of a public boat launch and marina. For this latter aspect, city staff are working with a pair of interested developers who responded to a request for express of interest issued earlier this year.

An update is expected when council resumes next month.