They’re Paving Paradise to Put Up a Parking Lot


Bad decision!By now you’re aware that our council has approved a plan to destroy a large open, public space in Harbourview Park, and replace healthy grass and trees with an asphalt parking lot so that people will drive instead of bicycling or walking to use the $1.55 million splash pad that will also be built there. 

This is the same council that is hiring a “climate change specialist” for $80,000 a year. You think that this “climate change specialist” would advise them to take a pedestrian-and-family friendly, environmentally-positive greenspace covered with renewable carbon-eating plant life and turn it into a vehicle-intensive heat sink? Me either.

You can see how much our council cares about climate change, and how likely they are to pay attention to any future advice.

Will this parking lot use permeable pavers and an enhanced water runoff treatment system to catch and clean all the polluted water that every parking lot produces? I doubt it. It will just be another environmentally negative eyesore adding to our council’s legacy of failures and bad ideas.

That parking lot will likely fill with vehicles belonging to people using the fast-food joints and strip malls on First Street, and become littered with the garbage from them. How much will it cost taxpayers to keep it clean?

Oh, don’t it always seem to go,
You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone…
They paved paradise put up a parking lot.

In winter that open space is often used by cross-country skiers, and snowshoe enthusiasts. A parking lot will kill those uses, too. So much for council’s alleged concern about healthy recreation.

Wait, you say. Isn’t that park built on a dump? Surely council is aware that the park was opened as a landfill site for industrial waste from Kaufman’s Furniture, LOF Glass, Harding Carpet, and other local companies in the 1950s. It was used as a dump for more than a decade and it was closed when it became too full to accept more.

Splash pads are designed for children. Do we want our children to play where a former garbage dump that was never properly closed lies under the soil? A dump that (as I’ve been told) was never properly capped to ensure leachate doesn’t go into our harbour?

In the 1990s, EnviroPark was intended to be built within Harbourview Park, but when the groundbreaking ceremony turned up debris like broken glass and tires, the site was quickly moved to a vacant lot across from Sunset Point. 

That former landfill site is why no children’s playground equipment was ever installed at Harbourview Park. You can still sometimes see trash poking through the soil on the hill to the north of the Arboretum.

Has anyone in town hall ordered an environmental assessment on the soil there to be sure it doesn’t contain toxic (or at least dangerous) waste? Have they included costs to remove contaminated soil down to the bedrock, and replace it with clean material? Methinks not. 

And what will be the impact of all these cars and people on the local wildlife that lives in and around Harbourview Park? Not a positive one, I’ll bet. The additional air and noise pollution from the increased volume of vehicles will be bad enough.

According to a piece in the Connection

The splash pad will be known as Awen’ Water Play and will be located at Harbourview Park near the Awen’ Gathering Circle…

A First-Nations-themed water park built during an alleged water crisis in Collingwood that required council to pass a job-and-revenue-killing bylaw to stop all new construction, and cause endless problems for neighbouring municipalities who get our water, for perhaps as long as four years?

And built at a time when many First Nations still don’t have drinkable water on their own lands? How tone-deaf do you have to be to approve this project? Wouldn’t it have been a lot more useful to donate that $1.55 million to a First Nations community to help them build their own water treatment plant?

(One wonders why the paper never asked about the former dump or whether building a water playground during an alleged water crisis was particularly good optics…)

The Connection also notes,

When Collingwood started its waterfront master plan, the No. 1 request from the public was a splash pad.

My understanding is that the public wanted the splash pad at Sunset Point Park and that some 90-plus percent of respondents to the town’s survey about Sunset Point’s future use asked for it there, NOT at Harbourview Park, where it will also destroy a popular soccer pitch, dog walking spot, gathering and picnic area. So how did council end up moving it from where the people wanted it to the place where it can do the most damage to the natural space? I mean, aside from the fact this council pays absolutely no attention to the public when it makes its decisions…

What happened to the ice skating path that was planned for Harbourview Park? Oh, I guess that part of the master plan got tossed, without, of course, consulting the public on it, either.

Collingwood deserves better.

UPDATE: See the comments, below this post for updates and links to Ontario government websites about construction near landfill sites.

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  1. Here is the Ontario government (Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks) website on land uses near a current or former dumpsite:


    5.2.2 Non-operating sites

    Where technical controls for leachate, or leachate and gas are required surrounding a fill area, no land use may take place within 30 metres of its perimeter. This distance maybe reduced to 20 metres in cases where only gas controls are necessary.

    6.3 Municipalities

    The local municipal authority is responsible for ensuring that proponents implement and monitor proper control measures associated with new, sensitive developments. It also shall ensure that periodic inspections of operating landfills and non-operating landfills and dumps for contaminant migration and potential hazards are carried out.


    Some years ago, a local developer wanted to build a private house on the Tenth Line, but it proved to be close to another former landfill. The town set up roadblocks, made the developer go through a thorough environmental assessment including completing a detailed D4 study, even before he could apply for other permits. I sure hope the town holds itself to the same exacting standard when it comes to building a children’s play area near a dump.


  2. And a piece from the Globe and Mail (2004):

    Landfill pollution may already be poisoning nearby residents, he says, causing bronchitis, kidney and liver disease and “babies that are slow mentally.” Not only that, but horses born on a local farm had twisted spines and other deformities.

    In Sarnia, Ont., Waste Management is spending $13-million to help turn a 60-year-old landfill, closed in 2001, into a 100-acre park with playgrounds, walking trails and bike paths.

    Halton hasn’t decided yet what to do with its fill after it closes, and it won’t have to face that question for another 28 years, when its total capacity of 4 million tonnes will be used up if garbage keeps arriving at the current pace.


    What would happen if the water line burst as it did in this city?

    On 15 September 1979 in the Dutch city of Lekkerkerk, the main drinking water pipeline burst. ‘An enormous fountain sprouted metres high and lifted the pavement’ commented the Chairman of the residents’ association. ‘The pipeline had turned black and was blistered. It looked like prawn crackers.’ It turned out that the new housing estate had been built on an old landfill and the waste and pollution had damaged the plastic main pipeline. The local and national governments decided to sanitize this site completely. Almost 300 families were evacuated. Most of the landfill, 1600 barrels with chemical waste and the surrounding polluted soil were dug out. The houses had been built on piles, which made digging under them possible and allowed backfilling under and around the houses with clean soil. This was the first major environmental disaster in the Netherlands and it gave impetus to further and more rapid development and implementation of Dutch legislation on soil pollution.

    A 2005 story about mitigation of another landfill site in Collingwood that was never officially closed (like the one in Harbourview Park):

    The property became an issue during the last election when questions arose about whether the county had a closure plan for the site, which ceased operation in the late 1980s. The site was never officially “closed” in terms of the understanding of the province’s environment ministry.

    The county has submitted a closure plan that has been accepted by the ministry, but the county is still trying to negotiate with three neighbours of the property over garbage on neighbouring land. The county will nevertheless fence off and cap the site in the summer. Land immediately beside the Georgian Trail that is part of the property but has not received waste will be left open for passive recreational use.

  5. It has been suggested that the reason for the shift from the Sunset Point location most of our residents wanted to the unpopular Harbourview Park site was because some of the mayor’s NIMBYist supporters complained that they didn’t want more visitors to a park they consider their private domain, so it got moved. You might note that this term, council has instituted draconian parking rules to deter visitors to the park, and implemented controls to discourage certain uses. Coincidence that the splash pad got moved, also?

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