“We’ve put up with this mess for too long,” says (St. Catharines) resident Susan Rosebrugh, who has been demonstrating Wednesday mornings on Ontario Street (where the GM property is located). “I won’t be done until I see some real progress.”
A News Release from the Niagara citizens group, Coalition for a Better St. Catharines
Posted February 2nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Over 2,000 residents of St. Catharines have asked the City to make the GM Lands safe and secure by signing a petition organized by the citizens group Coalition for A Better St. Catharines. At least 90% of the signatures were collected in person with additional signatures coming from an online portal found on the group’s Facebook page.
The petition drive has been ongoing for about 30 days and continues via volunteers in the neighbourhoods adjoining the half demolished former manufacturing site.
“It is no problem getting signatures,” says Coalition for A Better St. Catharines organizer Peter Russell. “In fact, wherever I go people ask to sign the petition. They thank me for helping to get the community organized behind this action.”
GM shuttered the plant in 2010 and sold it to Bayshore Groups in 2014. In 2018 demolition stopped and the site is now comprised of half-demolished buildings, piles of building materials, open pits, and a temporary fence breached frequently by trespassers. An environmental assessment of the site completed at the time of the sale shows that the soil is highly contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
The petition, presented at a packed council meeting on Monday, January 27 resulted in a motion, passed unanimously, that finally commits the City to take action. The motion calls for the City to determine the level of contaminants on the site and the health hazard they present, enlist independent legal advice on how the City can enforce cleanup, and a plan to secure the site to keep unauthorized visitors from the hazardous waste left on the site.
Despite the motion, some residents vow to keep up pressure on the city to ensure the site is cleaned up in a timely manner. The Coalition is growing and will continue to engage the community by collecting signatures and providing citizens with information from all sources as it becomes available.
“We’ve put up with this mess for too long,” says Haig resident Susan Rosebrugh, who has been demonstrating Wednesday mornings on Ontario Street. “I won’t be done until I see some real progress.”
For another recent piece Niagara At Large posted on this issue, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/01/09/st-catharines-citizens-coalition-calls-for-long-overdue-cleanup-of-abandoned-general-motors-site/
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