Hamilton’s mayor and city council issued a formal apology Thursday (Nov. 28) over their handling of the contamination of Chedoke Creek.
The apology was finally wrung from City Hall more than a week after news of the spill — that saw 24-billion litres of sewage and stormwater runoff leaked into local waterways over the span of four years — broke.
Since then, it was uncovered by The Hamilton Spectator, that council elected to keep the details of the spill from the public in order to avoid a hefty fine.
In the ensuing days, Hamiltonians have been practically unanimous in their fury over the city’s handling of the debacle.
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The apology, issued just before noon on Thursday, says:
“Mayor Eisenberger and members of City Council are issuing a formal apology to the residents of Hamilton for the failure to publicly disclose the volume and duration of the discharge of stormwater runoff and sanitary sewage into Chedoke Creek when it first became known to the Council in 2018 and at subsequent Committee and Council meetings.”
The press release goes on to say that in an effort to regain the trust of Hamilton residents, “Council has directed staff to publicly release several reports related to the discharge.”
The apology letter also outlines a number of other directives that council and city staff are undertaking:
- That staff be directed to compile and release publicly an inventory and summary of all water samples collected and retained by the City of Hamilton, from January 2014 to present
- That the City seek to reconcile with Indigenous Water Walkers to come into right relations on the concerns raised about waste materials in Hamilton Harbour and Cootes Paradise.
- That Public Health be directed to immediately identify, assess and report back on:
- Any health-related incidents associated with exposure to contaminated waterways in the Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise;
- Hospital and clinic data and public health notifications for any unusual illnesses reported since January 2014 that may be the result of bacterial contamination related to the discharge storm water runoff and sanitary sewage into Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise;
- That staff be directed to report back on the governance, collection and reporting model regarding water sample collection;
- That staff send a copy of this motion to ask the Hamilton Conservation Authority, and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, to release an inventory and summary of all water samples collected and retained related to Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise from January 2014 to present;
- That Public Works and Communications staff prepare a document that detail the chronology of when the Mayor and members of Council were apprised of the situation at Chedoke Creek and Cootes Paradise and the method of reporting (Committee or Council; type of report (written or verbal) and media releases from July 2018 to present;
- That staff report back publicly on the environmental impacts of the discharge; and
- That the City recommit to the water quality objectives in the Remedial Action Plan process.
The apology and the attempt at transparency come after a long and arduous council meeting last night that saw tempers and emotions run high at times.
It wasn’t until almost 3:30 in the morning Thursday that councillors were able to agree to issue an apology and release more information pertaining to the leak.