Sunday, July 21, 2024

More information given on possible development on Lyndhurst Road property

Photo via WikiCommons

Officials in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands are pondering their next steps after a recent inquiry from the Lyndhurst Community Organization on the possible development of a township-owned property at 405 Lyndhurst Road.

According to a staff report filed earlier this week, if the property was to be opened for public use, given its past uses, a record of site condition would be required.

The township’s environmental consultants, Malroz Engineering, advise that the process would begin with a phase one environmental site assessment (ESA), with an initial study to determine the likelihood contaminants exist. The estimated cost for this work is $10,000-$15,000.

A phase two ESA, which would include soil sampling and other tests to provide a better understanding of the land, groundwater, and structures on the site, would follow. If contamination is found, the limits of the waste would need to be delineated. The cost for the basic phase two is $35,000 – $50,000, but would increase if the delineation was required.

Depending on the results of the ESA process, the township would have two options, it was noted to council.

Those options include risk assessment, meaning the site would be assessed and deemed safe if certain activities are undertaken. The cost for the risk assessment would be $60,000 to $65,000 exclusive of any site requirements.

Site remediation is the other option. This is the removal of the material, bringing the site back to a natural state. All contaminated material would be removed and shipped to a receiving facility. The estimated cost for this is $200/t.

Due to the archaeological potential of the property, an archaeological assessment would likely be required. It is not known at this time what the recommendations of the current report are, as it has not been finalized and submitted to the province for approval.

Environmental work will need to be co-ordinated with any required archaeological assessment and potential restrictions on the site. This will also result in additional expenses, however, it’s not possible to determine the scope or potential costs until the current reporting is finalized and accepted by the province.

“We have to tread lightly on how we go about this to make sure we do keep the community safe and not open it up prematurely to something we’re not aware of yet,” said Coun. Brian Mabee.

Coun. Mark Jamison asked if the township planned to keep the property neat, keeping it from not becoming an eyesore.

“I don’t want the director of planning coming after me for property standards, so we’d certainly be maintaining and upkeeping the property,” said David Holliday, the director of operations and infrastructure for the township, which generated a laugh from the council table.

It was noted that if the property is left vacant and closed to the public, the township does not have an obligation to undertake any environmental tests unless ordered by the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The property was purchased at an auction on an “as is” basis without any representations or warranties as to the condition of the site. There were no guarantees that the site was free from environmental contamination.

The property is situated south of the Lyndhurst Bridge and has frontage on the west side of the river. The lands on both sides of the river were the site of various operations of the Lansdowne Iron Works, the first iron foundry established in Upper Canada. According to the township’s report, the iron works operated from 1802 until it was destroyed by fire in 1811 and was never rebuilt.

Over the years, the property was also used as a shingle mill, sash and door factory, grist mill and a hydro generating station which operated from 1912 to 1929. The generating station burned down in 1953.

It was thought that the main operations of the foundry were located on the east side of the river on property that has been designated a National Historic Site. Between 2017 and 2019, archaeological exploration was performed on both sides of the river. The digs were led by local historian Art Shaw, who has concluded that most of the iron producing activity took place on the west back of the river (on what is now township property).

Shaw, it was noted to council, advises that the professional archaeologist retained for the digs is expected to submit a final report concerning the site. Shaw has followed up with the archaeologist about the need for the report and expects that the report will also include recommendations for restrictions regarding any future disturbance of the site.

Parks Canada is also waiting on the report for consideration as to whether the National Historic Site designation should be expanded to include the township’s property.

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