Community meeting

Community meeting to discuss the Cataraqui River clean-up project

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KINGSTON – Residents concerned about the federal government’s Cataraqui River clean-up project are encouraged to attend an online community meeting Wednesday evening.

The meeting was organized in response to a proposal to clean up toxic chemicals at the bottom of the river, a plan that could include dredging contaminated sediment.

The plan, which is in its early planning stages, has been criticized by environmentalists, riverfront business owners and scientists who fear it will spark long dormant toxins.

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The federal government asked city council last month if it was interested in joining the cleanup.

The federal government’s $ 71 million proposal would involve cleaning up 15 areas in the harbor by dredging, capping in water and surfacing the shoreline.

The city has water bodies in five of the areas identified by the federal government as in need of cleanup, and those areas are said to account for about $ 10 million of the total cost.

The council delayed making a decision on the project after hearing from residents and experts that the plan could pose a “catastrophic” threat to the drinking water supply to the city and downstream communities.

Opponents of the clean-up plan argue that leaving sediment where it is, where it doesn’t really harm the environment, is the safest thing to do.

The owner of MetalCraft Marine said the clean-up plan could threaten his company’s ability to continue operating at its Inner Harbor site.

Council and the public have requested representatives from Parks Canada and Transport Canada to attend a public meeting to answer questions on the proposal.

There was also concern that a 1,000-page technical report that was used by federal government officials to develop the initial clean-up plan was not widely seen by the public.

Last week, Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen told council the government’s plan is in its early stages and no decision has been made on the project.

Gerretsen also encouraged city councilors to pressure the federal government to address their concerns and those of the public.

The Wednesday evening community meeting can be reached at .