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Work to open harbour lands underway

Soil capping to seal contamination underway as part of provincial clean-up requirements

Work to install a soil cap on portions of the city’s harbour lands is now underway. Part of the project will also include the demolition of the pedestrian bridge over the Oshawa Creek, above, which will later be replaced as part of a trail that will connect to the existing Waterfront Trail.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The city is taking the first of many steps in order to open up the harbour lands for public use.

According to a recent release from the City of Oshawa, contractors are now beginning the work to cap the harbour lands.

The soil cap is being put in place in order to bury and contain the contamination that exists on the site and keep it from coming to the surface or spreading further when the lands are eventually opened to the public.

The work will involve “various materials” a release from the city states. According to Ron Diskey, the city’s commissioner of community services, some of the capping was completed previously, prior to the city taking ownership.

“The capping area will only be portions of the property as other areas were already capped prior to the city purchasing the property,” he states.

The work is tentatively scheduled to last until November, however, Diskey says the high water levels may prolong the process.

The capping is  part of the environmental work required by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change under its Certificate of Property Use (CPU), handed to the city in November, in order for the city to eventually develop the site.

The project work is being managed by XCG Consultants, who have been heavily involved with the harbour work since the city regained ownership of the property. Council approved the single-sourced contracted earlier this year with the project management costs of $314,500.

In total, the harbour lands rejuvenation has a budget of nearly $1.5 million.

The work does not include the management of a future public marina and boat launch. Currently, the city is awaiting the response of four interested parties to a Request for Proposals.

The upcoming work will also include removing the former yacht club building and any debris on the site, as well as the removal of the existing pedestrian bridge over the Oshawa Creek. A new bridge and trail will be constructed through the new harbour lands and will connect to the existing Waterfront Trail.

The CPU also dictates a number of programs the city must implement in the years ahead to monitor the success of the contaminant remediation controls, health and safety plans for any construction that takes place below grade, and conduct a vegetative inventory of the plants and trees currently in the area.

The clean-up work is only the latest in a series of attempts to clean up the land. Following the settlement agreement that eventually handed the parcels of land back to the city, the federal government agreed to pour $9.2 million into the environmental clean up of large chunks of the land. They also put more than $10 million into moving the port operations from the west wharf over to the east wharf to better facilitate a people-friendly port.

In total, 48 acres of land were returned to the city in the agreement in five separate chunks – all, save for one, are east of Simcoe Street South and south of Harbour Road. A small 4.5-acre site sits north of Harbour Road. Council is now looking to create a community improvement plan to encourage development in this area.

The remaining sections are divided into a 20.5-acre section known as the Marina Lands, and the remaining 23 acres that abuts Simcoe Street is divided into the southeast corner lot, a small lot at 1609 Simcoe St. S. and finally the West Wharf.

The settlement agreement paints a beautiful picture for Oshawa’s waterfront: the marina lands, cleaned up and converted into a public marina where Oshawa’s seafarers can come and go as they please; the southeast corner and West Wharf converted into green space where citizens can walk, bike and play on paved trails surrounded by the natural charm of the waterfront.

Originally, council was meaning to make this dream come true by January 2017, facing a $4.2 million penalty if they failed to do so. However, the city was granted an extension by the feds to October of 2018.