The director of water for Hamilton, Ont., says a Six Nations group that cited treaty rights as a reason to slow the city’s remediation work in Chedoke Creek has come to an agreement allowing the cleanup to begin in June.
Nick Winters says the settlement with the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) ends an application the city had in the courts to compel the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to give city contractors full access to the site.
That agreement, signed by the general manager of Hamilton Public Works, allows for a designated HDI representative to join other First Nations on-site for environmental monitoring of the operation when it begins.
“What that means is the Haudenosaunee Confederacy will have a representative participating in the project,” Winters told Global News.
The city has been under orders from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to complete dredging of the creek to alleviate environmental impacts following the release of 24 billion litres of untreated wastewater between 2014 and 2018.
The city hopes to remove close to 11,000 cubic metres of contaminated sludge through a $6-million initiative it originally said would take six months to do and be completed by the end of 2022.
The MECP is giving Hamilton until Oct. 31 to complete “clean-up activities” to prevent further ecological impacts to that waterway and the adjoining Cootes Paradise.
HDI was one of several Six Nations groups the city had been negotiating with “in good faith” to honour treaty rights tied to the creek, which included the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Huron-Wendat Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River.
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The project encountered a stoppage when demonstrators contested improper consultation and lack of clarity in the actual specifics of the cleanup work upon arrival of a dredging machine at Kay Drage Park last summer.
Winters says contractors were given a notice to “remobilize” to the site as of Friday and are in a six-week work window as of the beginning of this week.
“They will be on-site by the end of June after a couple of weeks to do preparatory work on land … they will need to get things ready to roll for the dredging project,” Winters explained.
“They will be in the water on Monday, July 17.”