Seeding comes as HCA awaits OK on pollution safeguards
By Richard Leitner, News Staff
The former Veldhuis greenhouses property continues its gradual transformation into a gateway park this week with the seeding of the soil cap put in place to prevent people from being exposed to the toxins lurking below.
Sandy Bell, the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s manager of design and development, said he expected a contractor to take about a half a day to spray the property with a mix of seed, mulch and an adhesive agent to keep everything in place.
“When you’ve got a big, open area, it’s a cost-effective way,” he said. “Hopefully in a couple of weeks it’s going to look green instead of brown.”
The seeding comes as the Ministry of the Environment is giving members of the public until Aug. 8 to comment on measures it has approved to minimize the risk posed by the site’s historic contamination.
Outlined in a proposed certificate of property use, these include the one-metre soil cap, groundwater monitoring, a prohibition against the construction of any enclosed structures and signs warning visitors to not swim in the adjacent Desjardins Canal.
The certificate also sets out site-specific limits for 42 different “contaminants of concern,” a list dominated by heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
“We’ve undertaken the work that they required for the capping of the site,” Bell said. “Technically, we’re fine from their end but it’s still going through their steps.”
The proposed certificate requires the authority to test groundwater samples from three monitoring wells in the spring and fall for a minimum of two years.
Should contamination get worse, the authority will be required to take corrective action, although Bell said he expects the soil cap – taken from a McMaster University construction site last fall – to improve the groundwater’s quality over time.
“The one other complicating factor is that aside from our site, there are other sites outside of ours that could potentially drain in that way,” he said, noting a closed dump sits on the other side of King Street. “But it didn’t seem to affect what we were getting on ours.”
The authority acquired the property in 2008 and initial phases of the $1.8-million park removed 14 greenhouses and adjoining buildings.
Work completed since then includes cement foundations for a pavilion and a square by the remnant chimney where threatened chimney swifts nest, some shoreline restoration and installation of floating islands in the canal.
Bell said some planting of trees and shrubs will likely take place this fall, but other main elements, including the pavilion, square and pathways, will proceed as money becomes available.
The proposed certificate of property use can be viewed on the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights registry at ebr.gov.on.ca. The registry number is 012-2157.