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Harbour lands take another step toward provincial certification

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The city is closer to developing the harbour lands after announcing it will be putting soil caps on the property in order to ensure contaminants in the ground remain covered and do not spread. Under an agreement with the federal government, which previously owned the land, the property must be developed for parklands, as well as a boat launch and marina.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

As part of the risk assessment provided by the province for the city’s harbour lands, Oshawa is taking steps to ensure contaminated soil remains contained to the existing areas.

Following approval by council earlier this month, a soil cap will be placed on portions of the land to ensure that the contaminated soil remains covered.

“It makes sure that there’s sufficient soil above to make sure that contaminants will never come into contact with humans and environmental plant life,” says Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services.

The city has also attempted to mitigate the contamination 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.

The soil capping is only a small step toward obtaining the certificate of property use (CPU) from the province that will eventually lead to the record of site condition approval, which allows development to begin.

According to Ralph, the city expects to receive the CPU from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change “shortly.”

“Once that’s approved, then the capping takes place and you have to do all that work and once that’s done, the record of site condition is filed,” he says.

“I will be reporting to committee and council to show what the draft rules and regulations would be for the ongoing use of the property for passive recreational purposes.”

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 48-acre section 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.