By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The City of Oshawa has underestimated the amount of waste remaining from a historic landfill near Glen Stewart Park and is now being forced to cancel plans for a new baseball diamond.
The new diamond was part of the plan to rehabilitate Glen Stewart Park, which also includes efforts to upgrade the park’s playground and splash pad equipment along with rehabilitating the crumbling parking lot and stabilizing the eroding bank of the nearby Goodman Creek. However, a recently released report from the city explains that the baseball diamond plans are no more due to “unforeseen existing site conditions”.
“The discovery of a more extensive landfill waste area within the existing park space and the subsequent recommendation provided by our consultant, GHD, to not disturb or excavate into the waste has changed the scope of the project and timing for project completion,” the document reads.
However, city staff were somewhat aware of what they were getting themselves into ahead of holding public consultations to get the view of residents about what they thought of the park. In fact, many in attendance at the April 2016 open house were very much in favour of the new baseball diamond. However, the original reports that city staff based their original plans on were dated and did not reflect the reality of the situation.
Inspections were completed on the site first in 1977 by a consultant at that time and then again in 2000 by Golder and Associates, both of which cited landfill waste in the southeast corner of the site. A further report done by Golder in 2009, which included three boreholes to nine feet below grade at the north, west and south limits of the site, found landfill waste to the north.
Glen Stewart Park is located on Cabot Street and bound by Cartier Avenue to the north, Cabot Street to the west, Durham Street to the east and existing residential lands to the south.
Using these reports, city staff designed the park away from the affected areas, however, during the detailed design stage, staff dug their own “verification test pits” and found the situation was not what they expected.
“We found that there’s more waste than the two reports that we used as our basis to design the park,” says Mark Robinson, the city’s director of facilities management. “When we found that we’re dealing with our current situation and the present site conditions that we’re challenged by, it’s not in our interests corporately to excavate into the waste.”
For that reason, the plans for the new ball diamond are being scrapped, and staff will be going back to square one to figure out a new option. However, due to the fact that the ground can’t be dug into and re-filled, the city’s options are limited. Plans for public consultation on the matter are now in the works.
A budget for the consultations was not included as part of the report, but the funds are expected to be taken from the $85,00 that would have gone toward the ball diamond. The remaining work on Glen Stewart Park has also been pushed back, now slated to be completed between August and December of this year. In total, the project has an approximately $930,000 budget.
The issue had some councillors concerned about how the amount of waste could have simply been missed by city staff.
“What happened between the two reports in 1977 and 2000, how much did they miss?” asked Councillor Amy McQuaid-England.
Moving forward, Robinson says that staff have learned a valuable lesson, but the issue won’t result in any change to policy.
“It won’t be a policy change, it will be a practice,” Robinson says. “You bank it, and you make it practice moving forward.”