going for gold and getting brown


The Auroran reported last week that the town has missed the mark in obtaining the LEED Gold standard they targeted for their Joint Oops Centre.  With a project that has already gone $6 Million over budget, what’s another  $100,000 on the bill to cover what the Mayor calls “items that seem to be somewhat subjective in terms of how LEED Gold is determined”.

Clr. Abel extrapolates one of these specific items : “One of the biggest things we didn’t realise when we [went] for the Gold was [the issue of] brownfield.”

A brownfield you say huh.  You mean like the Collis Leather site that was long since demolished ?

Collis Leather was one of numerous tanneries that operated here in Aurora, and where there were numerous tanneries means there are likely sizeable amounts of toxic tannery waste.

Back in 2014 Evelyn Buck wrote a post on the subject which included her stance that “So long as they are not disturbed the chemicals are harmless”.    The problem being that development of this site approved by council provided a green light to disturb these buried materials.  In fact the demolition order was approved due to the belief that the only way to remediate the site was through removing the building.

Well that part is done.  Here is a Google Map of the site in 2005:


Here it is May of 2015:


The property owner was supposed to ensure truck washdowns and soil screens were in place during the demolition.  Residents complained to the town that was not the case.  you view things from street level is that 3 properties immediately across from the brownfield are all up for sale:

When you view things from street level the 3 properties immediately across from the brownfield are all up for sale:


What are they so scared or frustrated with that would prompt them to sell?  We’ll let’s look across the street shall we:

Demolition is long since over.  Colis Leather has been ground into rubble and piled high into several mounds on an unsecured site.  What is of great concern are open bodies of water on a site that would have had containment ponds for toxic sludge.  That stuff that isn’t supposed to be disturbed.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t how one goes about safely remediating a brownfield in Ontario but to be sure this is where the Brownfields Statute Law Amendment Act, The Ontario legislative framework for brownfields comes in.   Established in 2001 there is a decent backgrounder on the chronology of regulatory ammendments posted in 2011.

One can spend an eternity sifting through texts on this subject.  Two that stand out are Brownfields: A Comprehensive Guide to Redeveloping Contaminated Property and Cleaning Up the Past, Building the Future: A National Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy for Canada .

Striving for more of an Ontario context I drilled into MCMILLAN ‘s 2005 Brownfield Tool Kit.  There’s a section that explores the STELCO/SWANSEA Iron Works Remediation Project as a case study, including a section on page 16 under the heading of  IV. LEGISLATION AFFECTING THE DEVELOPMENT 

Flip forward to page 19 and we read the following:


So was this developer asked to do any of this?

If not, why not?

Where is evidence of the town proactively monitoring the site during this remediation phase?

Where the town is so determined to chase Gold for its LEED standard at all costs it seems like the matter of a brownfield is indeed one of the biggest things standing between them and any shiny environmental medal.


Watts on your mind?

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