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Local resident calls for change after recent fuel spill marred Thurstonia community

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: After the recent fuel spill in Sturgeon Lake, one resident is calling for legislation to be created.

At a City of Kawartha Lakes Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, May 9th, Jackie Hellawell made a presentation to councillors on the subject.

“Today, I’m here to ask that careful care and consideration be discussed about the future of home heating sources of oil near our beautiful lakes here in the City of Kawartha Lakes,” she explained. “The oil spill recently discovered in Thurstonia Park on March 30th, 2023 marks the fourth oil spill in Kawartha Lakes waters since 2008.”

On April 4th, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit declared a drinking water advisory “for those drawing drinking water directly from Sturgeon Lake and part of Pitts Cove Road and Hazel Street to McLernon Street” after a fuel spill was reported by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

Ms. Hellawell questioned the current procedure for oil spill response. “The City remains responsible financially for this cleanup now. Should all the taxpayers suffer the consequences when a spill happens?”

She also pointed out the City’s focus on environmental responsibility. “We strive for a cleaner environment. So why are these spills continuing to happen over and over? Legislation should be considered to mitigate environmental impacts [on] our freshwater sources. When a spill happens, it affects everyone.”

One of the things she recommended was the creation of either an emergency response fund or a risk management plan. She also called for the province to offer grants to help lakeside residents move away from using oil heating.

Ward 2 Councillor Pat Warren asked if Ms. Hellawell had spoken to provincial officials on this matter.

“My hope is by coming to council today, [this deputation] is documented,” she responded. “It seems to be a too many cooks in the kitchen situation that happens, and we get told when we reach the MPP’s office that this is a municipal matter. And then when we reach them, we’re told to contact the Ministry of Environment. But the Ministry of Environment says, ‘We’re only the regulatory service.’ So that’s why I came to you first, hoping we can maybe get somewhere from here.”

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