Update: Contractor fined – ‘Snow’ in July has some Kingston residents deeply concerned

Update (Friday, Jul. 23, 2021)

According to the City of Kingston, the contractor responsible for the small bits of styrofoam littered throughout Kingston’s east end has been fined over the matter.

In an email to Kingstonist, the City relayed that they are aware of reports of polystyrene, which is commonly referred to as styrofoam, littering the roadway and properties along Highway 15. This issue is not related to the construction of the Third Crossing, nor any other City work, the City of Kingston communications team underlined.

“Following complaints from affected residents, the City’s bylaw and the environment staff have determined the source of the waste to be a private construction site. Staff have been to the site and issued fines related to by-law infractions,” the City said.

Specifically, By-Law Enforcement issued one fine.

“By-law Enforcement has confirmed that one provincial offences notice (PON) was issued under the Streets Bylaw (2004-190). The PON was under section 4.8 “No person shall pollute or foul, or cause or permit the pollution or fouling of a highway by a vehicle, animal or any other means,” said Brodie Richmond, Manager of Environmental Operations and Programs for the City of Kingston.

According to the City, they are not the only authority dealing with the matter, either.

“The City has also contacted the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, which is following up with the private contractor in regard to corrective actions. The City will continue to monitor the situation,” they said.

Kingstonist will continue to look into this matter, and update this article if/when more information becomes available.

Original article

One doesn’t expect a snow squall in Kingston in July, but that is exactly what one woman experienced while enjoying her morning coffee on her back deck, Friday, Jul. 9, 2021. Unfortunately, the ‘snow’ was actually a squall of styrofoam bits.

“I was looking out the window upstairs,” said John Curran, “and my wife was down on the deck in the backyard and you couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but it was just falling out of the sky like crazy.” 

John Curran scoops a sample of the styrofoam from his pool while Lily and Jugjit look on. Photo by John Curran.

John and Jugjit More-Curran were flummoxed. The Curran yard was coated in tiny, unmanageable particles of styrofoam, as were several neighbouring properties. “Luckily, we had a cover on our pool,” he said. “All those little bits could have clogged and broken the pump system.”

Curran took his dog, Lily, for a walk in the neighbourhood and “out to the Tim Hortons on Highway 15 and it was spread all over the sides and both sides of the road going that way, too.” 

He isn’t sure how long the trail went on for, but he does have a theory about what might have occurred.

“What I believe happened is that [a construction crew] went to truck [the styrofoam] all away and nobody thought, ‘Oh my gosh, better make sure it has a solid cover,’ and then they dumped all this styrofoam along Highway for an hour, or however long they drove on for.”

“Talking with people in our neighbourhood, it was very disconcerting. Considering the foam just started raining down from the sky covering our yards, decks and driveways one morning and was spread throughout the Riverview Way neighbourhood and no word since from anyone. Living here we are used to construction disruptions in our lives – blasting, big trucks, outhouses blowing over in the streets during high winds, but developers need to provide some sort of notice when they impact your lives and pay a price when they mess up.”

Curran did some research and found an article from May about the city having to clean up styrofoam that had come from the construction of the Third Crossing.  He wondered aloud if this was the source of the truck-full of bits spread all over his neighbourhood.

 “I mean, it’s gonna get in the waterways and people and animals might consume it if it’s so small. There are farms nearby and it could enter the food chain that way,” he worried.

“I think at this point, any sort of clean-up, you just can’t do it. Really, I would say that it’s spread too far and it’s been a little bit of time now. I can still see little bits in the corner of spider webs on my deck. The bits are firmly embedded in the environment.”

But Curran said he believes, “Someone really should be fined or forced to consider paying for some form of offsite mitigation or habitat creation for the damage they’ve done. Particularly if this was related to the City and the Third Crossing: this would be their second strike dealing with the same mess. Look at the issues they finally admitted to creating in May. I suspect this is the result of crews trucking away the styrofoam collected from the river and shoreline without thinking the plan through thoroughly enough first: the result, it blew all over the environment, making it impossible to remediate at this point.”

However, Curran acquiesced, “If not, my sincerest apologies to City Hall, but someone clearly made a mess and you were the last bunch working with massive amounts of styrofoam in the area.”

The Kingstonist has reached out to the City of Kingston for comment or answers on this matter, but no response was received by time of publication. Kingstonist will update this article if/when more information becomes available.

2 thoughts on “Update: Contractor fined – ‘Snow’ in July has some Kingston residents deeply concerned

  • My first guess is something to do with construction of the bridge. Occam’s Razor friends.

  • No it was all from the hotel construction and the big winds , micro pieces of the styrofoam from the new hotel siding were cascading throughout the neighborhood. I have pics that show all the mess.

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