Portlands soil and the Don Mouth

On Thursday, March 11, WATERFRONToronto held an open house to discuss their proposed new soil recycling facility on the Portlands.  I’m cautiously supportive of this one, with some reservations.

The good news is that all the soil in question is already on the Portlands.  The other good news is that it’s being cleaned up from its current toxic state in order to enable more human uses of the Portlands area.  This includes making way for the Don Mouth revitalization project that’s really kind of inspired.

Just as an aside, I want to point out that our previous Green Party candidate Sharon Howarth had a great deal to do with making the Don Mouth plan happen.  Four years ago, the city was ready to make a tiny cosmetic fix to the Don Mouth and Sharon had it in her head that she wanted the Don River to go back to having a huge floodplain covered in wetlands.  She encouraged a dozen of her friends, including myself, to go to meeting after meeting where we were perpetually rebuffed, yet insisted to anyone who listened that we weren’t satisfied with a slightly more gently curving concrete river bed.  She would not take no for an answer.

And in the end, we got this great public competition, some really fantastic ideas, and the winning entry had by far the largest wetland of all.  Sharon, of course, wants a wetland that’s larger still, but there’s no denying the current plan is vastly better than what was being proposed before.

My concerns about soil remediation come down to the details.  I’m unhappy that once again, the city is presenting the public with a fairly complete plan and only the pretense of public consultation.   The site was already chosen, the request for proposal for prospective companies had not only been issued but all the submissions had already been received when the public was consulted to rubber stamp without being told what guidelines are being imposed nor what the submissions involved.

What processes are being involved?  What sorts of dust control and runoff control will there be?  What other potential side effects might there be?

So yes, in theory, I’m all for cleaning up Portlands soil on the Portlands.  That doesn’t mean that I’ll approve of particular processes and standards.  I’ll have to see as they come up.  And I think better public consultation is needed.

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