City shares details on clean-up at new Integrated Care Hub site

The site of the new Integrated Care Hub at 661 Montreal St. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Photo by Samantha Butler-Hassan

The City of Kingston has released new details on the process of the environmental remediation process underway at 661 Montreal Street. The City’s Integrated Care Hub (ICH) is scheduled to move there from Artillery Park and on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, and work is reportedly on track.

As the former site of Burton’s Sanitation, the property is contaminated by industrial chemical pollutants. For over a year, prior to the City’s interest in the property, owner Ben Pilon said he has been implementing environmental remediation in line with requirements laid out by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOE). These include removing contaminated areas of soil, capping other areas of the property with clean material and installing specialized ventilation equipment.

“The project remains on track for the ICH opening on November 1st at 661 Montreal Street,” said Robert Hosier, Communications Officer for the City of Kingston.

City updates — ‘Project on track’

When a property changes from industrial to a more sensitive use, the MOE requires a Record of Site Condition (RSC) conducted by a qualified third party, to lay out its condition. A Certificate of Property Use (CPU) accompanies the RSC, and specifies the remediation required to make the site safe.

“The Certificate of Property Use is the legal instrument used to obligate the property owner to implement the risk management measures to ensure health and environmental risks are mitigated,” said Gary Wheeler of the MOE.

“During site redevelopment the various steps required within the CPU are implemented by the owner and are verified by the Qualified Person, environmental engineer at XCG Consultants,” said the City.

According to the City, the RSC at 661 Montreal St. involved the assessment and delineation of soil and groundwater contamination on the property, the removal of some hotspots of contaminated soil, and the completion of a risk assessment that is guiding remediation during redevelopment.

“These steps include, among other things, isolating the remaining soil contamination beneath a layer of clean material (either a certain thickness of fill or gravel or pavement), upgrades to the building’s ventilation system if additional stories are to be constructed, preparation of management plans and long term monitoring of environmental conditions,” said the City. “The owner’s Qualified Person inspects that these measures are completed.”

As a future leaseholder, the The City said it will also inspect to ensure that measures outlined in the CPU are satisfied. The City noted that the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks also has the ability to inspect the work being performed to complete the remediation as per the CPU.

Assessment highlights — contamination & restricted uses

According to Wheeler the CPU indicates that the the following risk management measures are required at 661 Montreal St:

  • Covering all areas of the site (not covered by the building) with either a paved hard surface or 1 metre of clean fill material;
  • Not having residential use on the main floor or below grade;
  • A health and safety plan for any subsurface work at the site; and
  • A soil and groundwater management plan for any soils or groundwater removed from the site during construction activities.

The RSC, completed by local environmental engineering firm XCG Consultants in July 2019, lists concentrations for up to 96 different contaminants in the soil and water. Many, including Mercury, Chloroform, DDT and other Petroleum Hydrocarbons were noted in high concentrations.

Wheeler said that although certain contaminants remain in the soil, the MOE concluded health risks can be fully mitigated if the measures outlined in the CPU are implemented.

“The owner’s environmental consultant conducted a risk assessment to determine the potential for risks to human health and the environment from conditions at the site. The risk assessment concluded that the risk management measures set out above would ensure that there are no risks to human health or the environment for this type of property use,” he said.

No residential use on first storey

The RSC and CPU both include clauses stating that the first storey of any building on the site should not be residential, and that the ventilation and air duct system serving the first storey should be separate from the rest of the building.

The CPU further elaborates that the first storey should not be “residential use, parkland use or institutional use, or a combination thereof.”

The City of Kingston said that the intended uses of the first storey align with this requirement.

“It is safe to occupy the first floor as a drop-in center because the type and length of stay are different than overnight accommodations,” said the City. “Additionally, short-term overnight stays are planned to occur on the second floor at this facility. The distinction is from the Provincial regulation that assesses risk based on type and length of stay inside a facility. “

The City said that a drop-in center is considered “equivalent to many other commercial uses in which a user would visit for a short period of time, but not stay overnight or for any longer-term occupancy.”

“Residential use assumes a longer stay and therefore the RSC and CPU identifies this use as applicable on the upper floors only,” said the City.

The CPU goes into further detail about the steps required for recovering the property, including the need for “continuous pathway elimination” for the contaminants, soil maintenance and inspection.

The CPU for 661 Montreal Street, CPU RA1560-16-01, is dated Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 and is signed by Travor Dagilis from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks. XCG Consultants completed the RSC in July 2019, and the MOE filed it on Tuesday, Sep. 10, 2019. XCG Consultants indicated in the RSC that they had performed three other Environmental Assessments on the property between 2014 and 2019.

Updates coming Tuesday

The City is holding a press conference at the new ICH site on Tuesday, Oct. 20, in conjunction with HIV/Aids Regional Services (HARS), who partner with the City to operate the facility.

The ICH opened at Artillery Park in July, 2020, a temporary location that was unoccupied at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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