SCUGOG: Council is taking steps to ensure the safety of those near the Greenbank Airways fill site, by requesting numerous borehole soil tests be carried out under Township supervision.
During a special meeting on Thursday, March 12, Mayor Tom Rowett and councillors-present passed a motion to prepare tenders for a minimum of 10 borehole tests to be carried out at the site, with a maximum spending cap of $50,000 – funded from the environmental and legal protection contingency of the Township’s past fill revenue fund. In addition, the sample sites would be determined by Scugog’s Public Works Department, and carried out under the supervision of a qualified Township staff member.
Mayor Rowett told The Standard that the matter “is pressing and needs to be carried out as soon as possible, due to an outcry from the public, and the fact that the spring thaw is nearing.”
The Greenbank Airways site is located near the corner of Hwy. 12 and Hwy. 47, and is close to the headwaters of the environmentally sensitive Nonquon River, and Township staff have noticed a large run-off of melt water from the south end – making for a small window of opportunity, before the soil is too unstable for large machinery to traverse into the site. The borehole tests - which are carried out with machines similar to those used in well-digging - will drill as far as 80 feet into the soil and extract a tubular sample, which can then be analyzed for possible contaminants, like heavy metals.
Scugog’s Director of Public Works and Parks, Glen Smith, told Council that he plans on performing 10 to 20 tests of the site – ranging in depth and location – to ensure that environmental concerns are either found-out, or put to bed for the time being.
“I’ll put out at least two tenders, and get the most tests I can with the money I’ve been allowed,” said Mr. Smith. “Usually the process would take more than six weeks, but I’ve been in talks with Ontario One Call and the owners of the site – and we will expedite the work as much as possible.” Mr. Smith estimated that testing results could be returned is as little as four weeks.
“I hope there are no bad results, for the sake of the residents who live in this Township, but I’m also not too naïve to think there couldn’t be a problem – despite the level of testing done in the past and at the current time,” said Mayor Rowett.
The agreement between the proponents of the Greenbank Airways site and the Township will come up for renewal on March 31, and could see changes for the years ahead. At a Open House budget talk earlier this month, Mayor Rowett told the public that Council has been hard at work meeting with their legal team - creating a list of new demands and requirements – which he calls a ‘baseline’ for the future.
Among the ideas mentioned by the Mayor are a new policy for making testing results accessible to the public as-soon-as-possible, making random unannounced checks on the site possible for Township quality-control personnel, and increasing the required insurance for the project from $2.5 Million to $10 Million.
Mayor Rowett explained that, if a test comes back with negative results, the Township has the power to halt incoming fill trucks until the matter is resolved, but that the specifics of resolution would largely depend on the size and severity of a hypothetical issue.
The final draft of the new Greenbank Airways agreement is expected to appear before Council during their next scheduled meeting, on Monday, March 30.