Charge targets city
By Sue Yanagisawa, Whig-Standard Staff Writer
|Old dump site the centre of pollution allegationEnvironmental activitists have brought a charge against the city, claiming its old garbage dump is leakin a “toxic liquid” into the Cataraqui River. The alleged leak is on the east side of Belle Park – near the municipal golf course and a children’s summer camp. The area was the site of the municipal dump before 1974. Janet Fletcher, a member of the Storrington Committee Against Trash (SCAT), swore a complaint against the City of Kingston earlier this week under the Fisheries Act. Fletcher claims that some trout exposed to samples of water taken from the site died within an hour in laboratory tests. “You expect this of an industrial polluter, but you don’t expect it from a municipality,” she said. The city issued a news release yesterday acknowledging that a court summons had been served on officials Wednesday. The release – on city letterhead, but unsigned – says the city “intends to respond to the charge,” but said nothing more specific. City solicitor Norman Jackson will have to attend Provincial Offences Act court on April 15 to represent the municipality at a first appearance on the charge. Fletcher and her husband, Doug Fletcher, and their lawyers from the non-profit Sierra Legal Defence Fund held a news conference in the parking lot at Belle Park yesterday afternoon.
They were joined by Craig Boljkovac, a representative of Great Lakes United, another environmental group. Boljkovac has promised to assist the Fletchers by publicizing the Belle Park problem to Kingston’s southern neighbors. He has “absolutely” no doubt they will react, he said, because “people in Clayton, N.Y., could be affected by benzene from this [former] dump. It’s downstream from this [former] dump.” While the news conference was going on, just down the road, by the river’s edge, a work crew, using a backhoe, was constructing what looked like a dike out of three-meter long metal pylons. Water pouring from the river bank seemed clear, but an arc of yellow ice stretched out several metres from the bank. Crew members refused to say what they were doing. They wouldn’t even say whether they worked for the city. A man who appeared to be in charge of the crew referred all questions to the city’s commissioner of municipal operations, Brain Sheridan. Sheridan, however, deferred to treasurer and chief administrative officer, Rick Fiebig. Fiebig siad he did not know who the men with the backhoe were or what they were doing – even though the news release sent out by the City says: “Upon the issue being raised, the City responded and is undertaking remedial measures at this site.”