Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Today's on-line Waterloo Region Record carries the following story titled "Tax rebate to fund $8.6 M cleanup of former Kitchener Frame site". This story is a feel good story telling we citizens about a joint municipal-regional program that encourages both local development as well as remediation of contaminated sites. If a developer is willing to fund an up front cleanup of a contaminated site prior to redeveloping it for another use then the municipality and the Region will forgo the annual much higher taxes on the redeveloped property until the developer can recoup his out of pocket cleanup costs. On the face of it this is a win-win. The environment wins a cleanup and the city and Region eventually win more revenue. So what's the problem?

First off we are allegedly in a provincial jurisdiction that requires polluters (who've been caught) to pay for their damage to the natural environment. Remarkably one exception is if their contamination hasn't left their property. That is joke number one. You can't discharge solvents for example onto bare ground without some of them being volatilized and escaping the property as fumes to further pollute our already toxic air. Secondly as Dr. Gail Krantzberg advised CPAC nearly six years ago, a large amount of everything that Uniroyal spilled or dumped on their property eventually was transported either into the air, the groundwater or surface water where it escaped off-site.

Clearly this program rewards polluters who have managed to either sell or abandon their contaminated properties prior to being caught. Why isn't Budd, ThyssenKrupp or Kitchener Frame paying for this cleanup? The same goes for the former Deilcraft (Electrohome) site on Shanley St. in Kitchener. The list goes on.

Up here in Elmira we the taxpayers are still paying every year for 50% of the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers courtesy of Uniroyal Chemical. The old Varnicolor Chemical site in Elmira was only partially remediated back in the mid 90s before being sold by Phillips Environmental. Initially the Ontario Ministry of Environment had insisted on a full cleanup of the site prior to Phillips buying it. Of course this was when the media and the public were breathing down the Ministry's neck. The owner after Phillips has been stuck managing and maintaining a pump and treat system and more for over fifteen years without the end in sight. Clearly the rules are far more subjective than objective.

The bottom line is this. Private citizens and taxpayers should not be paying to clean up messes caused by irresponsible or negligent companies. Most pollution is all about money. If a company can save money by holding their noses and looking the other way they will as long as the Ontario M.O.E.'s monitoring and enforcement are so perfunctory. These same irresponsible companies will do their best to externalize costs onto the backs of both taxpayers and the natural environment as long as they are allowed to get away with it. Unfortunately our major political parties are too deeply entrenched in bed with their corporate backers to actually put teeth into environmental legislation without including loopholes for these bad actors to avoid their responsibilities. For our past provincial Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments it's all about pretending to make Polluters Pay. Right now it's you and me paying for the negligence, often intentional, of major corporate polluters.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the reference! That said all parties in charge have to date studiously avoided a sediment transport study even when called for by Dr. Richard Jackson, the first TAG Chair and an expert on remediation.