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Chedoke Creek dredging still on hold as provincial deadline looms

A dredging boat in Chedoke Creek near Kay Drage Park. Global News

The targeted dredging of contaminated sediment from Hamilton’s Chedoke Creek remains on hold.

The City of Hamilton said its contractor can’t begin in-water remediation because representatives of an Indigenous group are occupying the work site and creating an “unsafe situation.”

Read more: Chedoke Creek dredging to begin in the next week, City of Hamilton says

In its most recent communication update, the city stated that two members of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) arrived onsite via the water last Thursday, erected a tent and began building a bonfire on a fenced parcel of land owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) on the west bank of Chedoke Creek.

That parcel is being used by the contractor, with permission from RBG, as a laydown area for dredging equipment, and the city says the HDI representatives have since refused to leave the site.

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Read more: Environmental contractor hired to dredge Hamilton’s Chedoke Creek

Aaron Detlor, a lawyer representing the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, said they are simply exercising treaty rights and are not to blame for the ongoing delay.

“The company, by way of Ministry of Labour regulation, is not allowed to operate while we’re in the vicinity exercising treaty rights,” Detlor said. “Therefore, the cause of the inability to do the work is not us exercising treaty rights, it’s the Ministry of Labour’s regulation.”

“Whether or not we’re in the way of the dredging equipment isn’t really relevant, considering that we’re allowed to be there,” Detlor added.

The city said the delays could impact the contractor’s ability to complete the dredging of more than 10,000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment, in advance of the current deadline of Dec. 31, 2022, as stated in orders from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

The city adds that staff are continuing conversations with the provincial agency to determine “next steps.”

Read more: City of Hamilton faces provincial charges for 4-year spill into Chedoke Creek

The targeted dredging follows the release of 24 billion litres of sewage and untreated wastewater into Chedoke Creek, through an open gate on a combined sewer overflow (CSO) tank between 2014 and 2018.

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Detlor argued that the project is a “cover-up,” rather than an attempt to remediate the creek.

“They’re trying to cover up what it would cost to actually clean up the spill,” Detlor claimed. He insisted that dredging will only remove a fraction of the contamination.

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