Speaking to some long-time Collingwood residents, I’ve learned a bit more about the dump that lies under the soil at Harbourview Park and is now proposed as the site of a children’s splash pad. As far as I have been able to determine, this is being done without a proper environmental assessment having been done to ensure its safety. An EA is required by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks for former dump sites.
- The dump was meant for industrial waste but was quickly used for all sorts of garbage, including household and restaurant waste. As one resident told me “everything was dumped there.”
- The site operated for more than a decade with minimal oversight.
- I was also told that it was used as a dumping site for dead dogs as well, and possibly other dead animals (the town had no animal control or humane society back then).
- The shoreline beside the dump was never capped, nor were the landward fringes of the dump. The central area was capped with soil, but some areas have since settled (waste can often be found emerging from the soil on the hill north of the Arboretum).
- Walk along the gravel trail east of Elm Street towards the park and on the north side (looking towards the wetland) you will see garbage that’s been there for decades, including the rotted shell of an oil tank from a house. This area has never been properly cleaned up or capped.
- The edges and shoreline of the former dump have been leaching material into the harbour for decades. Photographs of an oil slick leading from near that trail into the wetlands and under the boardwalk were posted on Facebook this spring.
- Residents say they wouldn’t let their children or grandkids swim in the harbour because of the leaking dump, and still warn against it.
- An environmental assessment was apparently done for the town by consultants when the site was proposed for Enviropark in the early 1990s. That assessment allegedly found that methane gas was released when the covering soil was disturbed.
- Without a recent EA, no one knows if the construction of the splash pad will release toxic gases, or if the site will be safe for children.
- There does not appear to be any recent staff report on the effects to children’s health on the additional pollution that will be caused by the increased traffic from the vehicles and the parking lot.
- There does not appear to be a staff report on the increased carbon footprint this will create for the town or any suggestions to mitigate that effect.
Would you let your kids play on a dumpsite? Is it worth the risk? Let’s hope the town does the right thing and commits to an EA to ensure the safety of the site before spending millions on construction. Staff, that is, because we know there’s no leadership at council this term.