Mark Mattson, President & Waterkeeper, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper t) 416.861.1237 e) Mark@waterkeeper.ca
TORONTO - Provincial intervention could protect the future of the Red Hill Valley, says environmental justice group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper asked the province this week to reconsider its 1985 approval for the construction of an expressway through the Red Hill Valley. The City of Hamilton is in the early stages of construction for this Red Hill Creek Expressway, relying on the province's approval for the project.
"The City of Hamilton has demonstrated that it is not only an untrustworthy advocate but in fact an aggressor against the Red Hill Creek," stated Mark Mattson in a letter to Environment Minister Jim Wilson. Mattson cites criminal charges and administrative orders against the city for polluting the Red Hill Creek, including a Fisheries Act conviction for landfill pollution, pending Ontario Water Resources Act charges for sewage pollution, and four provincial orders for stormwater pollution.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is requesting that Minister Wilson reconsider provincial approval for the expressway project. The request is made under Section 11.4(1) of Ontario?s Environmental Assessment Act which grants the Minister authority to reconsider approval for a project when circumstances have changed or new information arises.
The original project approval was given to the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth in 1985, based in large part on its credibility. Now that the proponent is the City of Hamilton, the findings on credibility should be reassessed, suggested Waterkeeper.
Waterkeeper also noted that recreational and environmental appreciation for the Valley has increased dramatically since 1985. The area has been designated part of a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, and the valley has been identified as important habitat for the threatened flying squirrel.
"We feel the people of Hamilton are justified in hesitating to trust the future of the Red Hill Valley to the city. It feels like asking a thief to guard your treasure," says Mattson.