The Hamilton Spectator
City has been given until Oct. 31 to dredge Chedoke
Province has granted Hamilton more time to clean up its sewage spill
The province has relented on its oft-changing Chedoke Creek cleanup deadline and will now give the city until the end of October to dredge sewage sludge out of the spill-prone waterway.
But the latest compromise does not resolve the disagreement with an Indigenous group that prevented a cleanup last summer.
Ontario originally ordered a creek cleanup after The Spectator revealed in 2019 the city had kept secret the extent of a four-year, 24billion-litre sewage spill. Dredging was supposed to start in 2021 and was later delayed until 2022.
Work stopped last summer when the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) called on the city to consult with — and seek project “consent” — from hereditary Six Nations leaders based on Indigenous treaty rights. A contractor eventually refused to dredge the creek, citing safety concerns about repeated visits to the work site by HDI members.
The province has since repeatedly amended the dredging timeline — with the latest Oct. 31 date set in response to city concerns it could not finish vacuuming muck out of the creek by the end of August. The deadline extension should stave off a threatened city appeal of the order.
Mayor Andrea Horwath thanked the province for the extra time in a statement Wednesday. “All of us want to see the remediation of Chedoke Creek completed as soon as possible and this new co-operative timeline will allow that to happen,” she said.
But so far, the city and province have “refused to engage in good faith discussions” over project concerns outlined by the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, according to spokesperson Aaron Detlor, who did not rule out future visits to the work site by members.
Detlor said his group wants to sit down with “decision-makers” to discuss concerns about the dredging and the issue of Haudenosaunee “consent” for the project — a non-starter for the city so far. “If the city is allowed to not clean up their mess, they are effectively extinguishing (Indigenous) treaty rights.”
Last week, city water director Nick Winters said he is still hopeful Hamilton can reach an agreement with HDI, noting the city has successfully signed monitoring agreements with the Six Nations elected band council and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
The city is bringing a project update to councillors March 22.