HAMILTON — City officials announced Wednesday morning that they reached an agreement with provincial officials to extend the cleanup deadline for the Chedoke Creek to October.
Ontario initially granted Hamilton until December 2023 to finish dredging the creek rolled up the deadline to August 31.
Hamilton City Council voted in a closed Special Council meeting March 9 to submit an appeal to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and asking for the former December deadline to be reinstated.
However, before the appeal could be filed, city officials announced that they’d reached an amicable and hopeful agreement with the Ministry to complete the work by a new amended deadline of October 31.
Hamilton water director Nick Winters wrote in an update that, “During that discussion, it was agreed that a deadline to complete the in-water targeted dredging work of October 31, 2023 would be more achievable provided the City and its contractor are able to gain free and unimpeded access to the work site and able to assure the contractor of same.”
The city is expected to give an update on the project at its General Issues meeting on March 22.
In the meantime, a letter from Stephen Burt, District Manager for the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks says that one of the stipulations to the new deadline are requirements that the city submit weekly reports.
In a letter to the city, Burt writes, “To ensure the ministry is made aware of any impacts to the revised timelines as soon as possible, I will also require that the City of Hamilton provide the ministry with weekly written reports outlining progress on key milestones before dredging begins and weekly written project updates once the dredging begins.”
A total of 24 billion litres of raw sewage spilled into the creek, over a period of four years. The spill was kept quiet by Hamilton City Council and was revealed by a 2019 Hamilton Spectator investigation. That spill led to Ontario ordering the city to clean up the mess.
The city says that representatives from the Haudenosaunee Development Institute have obstructed the worksite claiming there has been no consultation and accommodations made.
Hamilton says that HDI is demanding provincial policy changes and more than half a million dollars in compensation. The Hamilton city council authorized equal compensation funds for all four entities it was required to consult with for $40,000. The Mississaugas of the Credit, Six Nations of the Grand River and Huron-Wendat Nation have accepted those terms. HDI says that is not enough.
Detlor outlined in emails to the city that HDI needed capacity funding of $350,000. Additionally, Detlor said HDI needed to cover costs of 39 individuals placed “on standby” at a cost of $15,000 a day totalling an additional $585,000.
The HDI, its directors, its numbered provincial corporation and financial management corporation are currently being sued by Six Nations band members pursing a class action lawsuit alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and oppression – both claims which have been acknowledged as having merit by Justice R.A. Lococo. That case was headed to court on March 10 but was rescheduled to April.
In a letter to TRT, HDI Director Aaron Detlor says that the city is not being truthful about the cleanup efforts.
“Right now, the proposed remediation is cleaning up less than one-quarter of the sewage dumped into Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise and is not remediating the waterways in any manner consistent with established harvesting rights that exist over this area.”
No updates from either HDI or the city of Hamilton on whether or not an agreement has been reached between the two.