West end councillor calls for financing plan to restore Chedoke Creek

Ward 1's Maureen Wilson says a long term, $200 million plan for cleaning up and restoring Chedoke Creek is "inspiring", but funding is needed to complete the vision. Don Mitchell / Global News

A Hamilton councillor says the city will not improve water quality in Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise until it creates a “dedicated financial plan” to deal with stormwater runoff.

Ward 1’s Maureen Wilson told the city’s general issues committee on Monday that a long-term, $200-million plan for cleaning up and restoring Chedoke Creek is “inspiring,” but that funding is needed to complete the vision.

Read more: Report says $150 million and years of effort will clean up Chedoke Creek

Among other things, the restoration plan calls for modernization of the city’s sewer system and better management of runoff from highways, golf courses and other sources over the next 15 years, recognizing that most contaminants enter the watershed from urban runoff.

“We don’t have a stormwater fee,” Wilson said. “And if we know that 90 per cent of the contaminant loadings that are going into this water are from stormwater, would it not be prudent for this council to request staff to report back on how we’re going to financially plan, manage and respond to, I think, a responsibility that is ours?”

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As it stands, Wilson stressed that Hamilton is not going to be able to get there “without a massive injection of federal or provincial subsidy.”

Andrew Grice, Hamilton’s director of water, confirmed that a report outlining financing options will be coming back to councillors for consideration.

“(it’s) very clear from the stakeholders around the table that they wanted to see a stormwater fee to support some of these investments,” Grice.

Read more: Chedoke Creek spill related costs reach $2 million, dredging still to come

In the average year, Grice said on Monday, “the majority of phosphorus loading that is entering Chedoke Creek, is coming from our urban stormwater system, and not the combined sewer network that is often believed.”

Certainly, during large rain events, the “combined sewer system does contribute significant loadings to the natural environment,” Grice said, but “the more broad urban runoff is a problem for us in Hamilton and anywhere in Ontario, really.”

Targeted dredging, as ordered by the province after 24 billion litres of sewage and untreated stormwater leaked into the creek from a CSO tank between 2014 to 2018, is scheduled to begin next summer.

A series of “quick win” projects will be launched later this year, including floating vegetative mats and
small aeration machines that produce a bubbling effect and add oxygen into the water to prevent algal growth.


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