Ontario Environment Ministry Suddenly Cancels Meeting With St. Catharines Council Over Contamination Concerns at Former GM Property

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik

“This is incredibly disappointing and frustrating.    It’s the responsibility of the MECP (Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks) to work with owners of former industrial sites to monitor remediation work. It’s the responsibility of the MECP to provide updates to ensure any issues that might have an impact on surrounding neighbourhoods and watercourses are being addressed.”    – St. Catharines Mayor Water Sendzik

A Statement from St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik on

Environment Ministry ancelling appearance at City Council

Posted September 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – With just more than 24 hours before the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks was set to present updated results (at a council meeting this September 28th) of its monitoring of 282-285 Ontario Street in St. Catharines to City Council (a former General Motors plant site where a developer is now proposing to build high-density housing), MECP staff have notified the City they will not be attending the meeting.

More than a decade ago, General Motors abandoned its former plant property in St. Cathaines/Niagara, leaving the site in a filthy state andleaving area residents to worry about possible toxic contaminants like asbestos, heavy metals and PCBs being left behind. Residents are still waiting for answers from Ontario’s Environment Minister. File photo of site.

“This is incredibly disappointing and frustrating,” said St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik. “This meeting to update Council was set a month ago. To be cancelled at the last minute is unacceptable.”

Council requested back in February the MECP provide an update of its monitoring of the remediation work that has been undertaken by the ownership group of 282-285 Ontario St. The MECP made presentations to Council in 2020 and in 2021 regarding water and air quality monitoring of the site.

“The City doesn’t have the abilities to monitor or test industrial sites,” explained Mayor Sendzik. “It’s not our jurisdiction. It’s the responsibility of the MECP to work with owners of former industrial sites to monitor remediation work. It’s the responsibility of the MECP to provide updates to ensure any issues that might have an impact on surrounding neighbourhoods and watercourses are being addressed.”

File photo of the old General Motors site off Ontario Street in St. Catharines, left in an awful state by a major corporation that had the means to clean it up before closing shop here . Note residential homes in the background. Where has the Ontario Environment Ministry been on ensuring a proper cleanup and being open with the residents and city about the status of this site from an environmental and health risk point of view?

According to the ownership group of 282-285 Ontario Street, work has been undertaken since last November to address issues identified by the MECP from previous monitoring reports.

“While we appreciate remediation work has been moving forward, we have no way to verify how effective it has been to address some key areas of concern raised by the Ministry in previous reports to Council,” continues Mayor Sendzik. “That’s the role of the MECP and now Council and our community are left with more questions than answers.”

“I will be reaching out to Minister Piccini’s office to ensure he understands the importance of this community update. I will also work with MPP Jennie Stevens and MPP Sam Oosterhoff to get the results from the MECP released as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Sendzik.

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