Port Hope Council – PHAI Reports Good Progress

In City Hall

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Good progress is being made on the Port Hope Area Initiative, council heard at a special meeting Tuesday.

The news came in a quarterly report from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories General Manager Scott Cameron, who described how a neighbourhood-completion approach is being taken to remediation of residential properties, a more efficient method that has decreased the timeline and allowed more responsiveness to property-owner requests.

In all, as of this month, 1,850,883 tonnes of waste have been safely restored at the long-term-waste facility.

Cameron also outlined how they help the community in other ways, such as $22,300 in donations and $6,000 in sponsorships in 2023, not to mention their focus on local sourcing of goods and services whenever possible.

The presentation was followed by questions from councillors, but Deputy Mayor Claire Holloway-Wadhwani said that it wasn’t just questions from councillors that should be addressed.

“A number of residents have reached out to myself and other representatives of council with long lists of questions they hoped we would ask and, at the same time, a prominent number in our community posted questions online this week, saying that residents are not able to come and ask questions of you this evening. That sparked a pretty long conversation with 60 individuals,” she said.

Cameron had reported on 2023 communications initiatives, including 50 Indigenous engagements, 26 stakeholder presentations and 23 community events.

Holloway-Wadhwani noted that these communications and public-engagement opportunities are targeted events, as opposed to public forums. What is needed, she said, is “a town hall kind of forum where they can come and ask their questions regardless of what aspect they pertain to.”

“I have heard from many residents that there is an opportunity to communicate better, and I will take that challenge on,” Cameron agreed.

“I will take that feedback back to work with my communications team, and I will look at some kind of town-hall forum.”

“I don’t see it as a role of this council to act as an intermediary between you and the residents,” the Deputy Mayor said, hoping for something more specific.

“We are burning up precious council time on questions we could answer,” Cameron said.

“I think residents coming to council is a failure on my part and I need to solve it. I will work with my team and get back to you within 30 days.”

The special meeting also included an update on clean-up efforts at the harbour, a story that Cameron said began in 2010 and involves a great degree industrial waste as well as nuclear materials.

Work has included mechanical dredging, construction of new harbour walls and working with the Ministry of Natural Resources to relocate 10,500 fish from the turning basin and approach channel (then installing a fish-blocker net to prevent their re-entry).

Jeannette Davidson, Director of Works and Engineering, added some details about the Waterfront and Riverwalk Master Plan envision a vibrant multi-use waterfront that combines open green parkland with plazas suitable for outdoor events with some low-rise buildings and commercial opportunities (but no residential development).

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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