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by Doug Harvey
A Port Stanley Milestone
lead photo: Berm in 2010, main photo: Berm in 2017

A long awaited milestone will be achieved on the Berm in 2018 as the final stages of harbour remediation and risk management measures that Transport Canada agreed to get completed. For years under Canadian Government control, the Berm served as a parking lot for Little Beach on the East side, a do it yourself make shift park in the center, and on the West side a storage and staging area with paved parking. The West side was also home for some large chemical storage tanks that were removed in August 2010, a small commercial office that was also removed, and leftovers of an old coal storage yard. The initial efforts to clean up the East Berm ended just before the Harbour Divestiture in September 2010 with the removal of the chemical tanks.

Once the Municipality of Central Elgin took over the harbour, work on an environmental assessment of the entire Port Stanley Harbour began, and access to the green areas of the Berm were restricted with large concrete blocks keeping out most motorized traffic, leaving the area utilized mostly by people walking dogs. It took only seven years to complete the necessary environmental assessment, come up with an action plan on what would be done to the Berm, and finally in 2017 access to most of the berm was restricted with metal fencing creating a containment barricade for heavy construction machinery.

Existing vegetation that had been allowed to grow for decades, everything from trees, weeds, bushes, and evasive grasses, every plant had to be stripped from a majority of the Berm property in order to access the soil below for the proposed remediation and risk management measures. Over a majority of the Berm, except for the paved parking area which is considered a suitable containment cap, a Parkland standard consisting of only a soil containment cap would be placed over the existing contaminated soil as a means to effectively block exposure to contaminants that could potentially cause a risk. This entire project was scheduled to be completed by late fall 2017, but by the winter of 2017 the project was still incomplete, with work now to resume in early 2018 and be fully completed sometime in 2018. Once all work is completed access to the Berm will still be restricted to ensure the cap is stable, and that new vegetation has had an opportunity to establish without disturbance.

As to what happens next with the Berm after the grass starts growing, well this depends upon how the secondary plan for the Port Stanley Harbour is evolving. Another public meeting to go over the final draft of the secondary Harbour plan will occur sometime in mid 2018. Redevelopment of any divestiture lands is difficult due to ownership restrictions that limit the sale of any divestiture lands without a payback of divestiture funds during the term of the agreement.


Last Updated: Thursday, 04 January 2018 14:10:15 PM EST

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