July 27 2001

Kingston Whig-Standard

Make our river beautiful again

by Sharon Lindores

Once upon a time the Cataraqui River was a beautiful, clean body of fresh water that flowed through where our city now lies.

People could fish, stroll along its bank on a nice summer’s day, or even go in for a dip.

Some people still do those activities – at their own risk.

After the growth of past industry and the seepage from the Belle Park dump, the river remains in a questionable state of well-being. The provincial and federal governments are sure that the river is leaking PCBs, banned chemicals suspected to be carcinogenic, into Lake Ontario.

Despite this problem something good can come of it. Queen’s Park and Ottawa chose Kingston, along with Toronto and St. Catherines, for a cross-border cleanup project to determine the source of the pollution. Test began here this week to gauge PCB levels. Once we know the extent of the problem, we can develop a solution to deal with it.

This is the second initiative to help clean up Lake Ontario that has come to our area this month. Earlier in July, the Lake Ontario Keeperproject got under way when it launched a boat to investigate and prosecute polluters.

“Protection of our resources, our rivers, our land, is something that can’t be undertaken without the participation of everyone concerned,” Energy Probe’s Tom Adams said at the time.

He’s right. And the PCB investigation is just another chance for everyone to work together.

The study itself is exemplary because it will bring Queen’s University, the Royal Military College, and all three levels of government together. Results are expected in the fall. That’s when Kingston can really shine.

It’s great that the city has the opportunity to find out about pollution in our river, but we can also be a model for other communities across Canada by cleaning up the toxic mess.

That process should not involve pointing fingers and waffling over who is to blame. We should all work together for the health of the community and our water resources so that everyone can enjoy them safely.