Owen Sound Dredging: Two Essential Concerns
If Owen Sound or a third party takes ownership of the harbor, between 46.576 and 74.816 cubic meters of hazardous waste material needs to be dredged from the harbor and mitigated from harbor land.
This and other vital information is found in 5,500+ pages contained in recent reports prepared by Dillon Consulting Limited for Transport Canada and obtained under an Access to Information Request.
“This would be the equivalent of filling up to four Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centres to the rafters with hazardous waste,” said Steve Coffey, Chair – Board of Directors, Owen Sound & District Chamber of Commerce. “Environmental regulations would require most of this contaminated soil to be taken to hazard waste disposal sites and likely cost millions of dollars.”
Divestiture of the harbor is one of the most important issues facing the City and region, yet negotiations with Transport Canada are at a stalemate. Compounding this situation is the lack of intelligible information about the condition of the harbor and the challenges the City or third party may face if it assumes ownership.
It is for this reason the Chamber summarized these reports to make the information more accessible and understandable for its members, the City and public.
Copies of the summary have been sent to the Mayor of Owen Sound and Council, as well as the Mayors of Meaford, Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs.
Coffey stated that “the purpose of the summary is to generate rational, factual and vigorous discussion among all stakeholders about the future of our harbor.” He cited two essential concerns that the City needs to address before negotiations should continue.
The City supports the continuation of commercial and recreational use of the harbor. In principal, the Chamber supports this mixed use. However, the City must prepare a business case that can justify a viable commercial industry for the harbor including projected annual revenues, operating costs, etc. that will ensure ownership of the harbor can be self-sustaining.
The business case will determine how and whether divestiture should proceed. If the case can be made, then the harbor will need to be dredged. If a case cannot be made, then the harbor should be designated for recreational purposes and dredging will not be necessary.
The second concern is the cost to dredge and mitigate the land owned by Transport Canada as well as future projected maintenance. These costs will impact directly on the negotiations. The negotiated cost will be paid by Transport Canada; however the City will be responsible for any cost overruns. The City will need to hire professional consultants to prepare detailed and supportable cost estimates.