Waterfront Toronto has proposed the construction and operation of a waste disposal facility on the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto’s port lands. While remediating the soil along Toronto’s waterfront is an essential activity that will lead to a healthier and more accessible lake, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has serious concerns about the impacts of this proposal on the health of Lake Ontario and recreational users in the community.
The proposed site for this waste disposal facility is in the heart of Toronto’s port lands, which are increasingly being used by residents and visitors for a variety of recreational purposes. The proposed waste site sits between Lake Ontario to the north and Lake Ontario Park to the south. Toronto’s Waterfront Trail, used for walking, jogging, biking, and roller blading, runs along the south and west sides of the proposed site. Cherry Beach and two active sailing clubs are located just south of the site.
The soil processed at the proposed site would be heavily contaminated with a variety of pollutants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and pesticides. When compared to the relevant standards for soil quality, the levels of contaminants estimated for the site are alarming and warrant a high level of concern.
It would not be reasonable for the Ministry to approve a waste site with these levels of
contaminants on the shore of Lake Ontario and in close proximity to recreational areas. For a site located on a spit in Lake Ontario, surrounded by parkland frequented by recreational users, the mitigation measures proposed by Waterfront Toronto are not sufficient to protect human and environmental health.
No reasonable person, having regard to the relevant law and to government policies developed to guide such decisions, could decide to issue a Certificate of Approval for this site. A decision to issue a Certificate of Approval for this site would not be consistent with the Ministry’s Statement of Environmental Values as it would be inconsistent with the precautionary principle, a science-based approach, a consideration of cumulative impacts, and the ecosystem approach. A hearing under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act and an environmental assessment under Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act are required in order to be consistent with
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Waterfront Toronto’s proposal poses a signiﬁcant threat to the environment because of the hazardous contaminants that would be received, stored, sorted, and processed at the site. It would not be reasonable for the Ministry to approve a hazardous waste site on the shore of Lake Ontario and in close proximity to recreational areas. The proposal poses a signiﬁcant threat to the environment because the plan in the Design and Operations Report will not adequately protect the environment or the members of the public that frequent the areas directly adjacent to the site. A decision to issue a Certiﬁcate of Approval for this site would not be consistent with the Ministry’s Statement of Environmental Values.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper recommendations can be summarized as follows:
1. The Ministry must ensure that the full complement of applications associated with
the project are presented and considered concurrently.
2. In the absence of scientiﬁc evidence that the proposal will not cause harm, the
Ministry is required to consider it to be as hazardous as it could possibly be.
3. Further information about the proposal and evidence supporting that information is
required before the Ministry can make a science-based decision that accounts for
human health, worker safety and environmental protection, as required by the
Ministry’s Statement of Environmental Values.
4. All information about the proposal must be made available for public comment to
fulﬁll the requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights.
5. The Ministry cannot allow a twenty-year waste disposal site that will handle acutely
contaminated and potentially hazardous material to be built in the centre of a
thriving and growing recreational area without violating the SEV with respect to
6. A provincial environmental assessment must be conducted to review the proposal
for a waste disposal site on Unwin Avenue.
7. A hearing before the Environmental Review Tribunal is required to review the
proposal for a waste disposal site on Unwin Avenue.
Click here to read Lake Ontario Waterkeeper's entire 20-page submission.