Stealth Remediation?

with 2 comments

Last week, at the rear of the 2220 Kingsway Canadian Tire site, there was a lot of activity — soil removal and replacement and associated trucking. Work was performed along the entire back of the site, to the south, paralleling East 30th Avenue. At the beginning of this week, a casual inspection would discover little trace of the open pit excavations of the week before. As the photograph below (taken 6 Nov 2012) shows, the only change evident now is a covering of doors and windows with plywood.



The big question is, exactly what was going on last week? Was the work done on the site as a fast, cheap, and unsupervised clean-up coverup — without any permitting or inspection or official environmental review? No permits seemed to be posted, and the surrounding neighborhood received no notification about the activity.

Everyone is familiar with contaminated sites, like former gasoline stations that turn into empty fields and sit vacant for years. While Canadian Tire did not sell gasoline, it did operate twelve automobile service bays over a period of many years, and maintained a bulk waste oil collection facility at the southeast corner of the building. It seems clear that the inspiration for the excavation was site contamination.

Only yesterday did a Twitter response (no further communication yet received) come from the City of Vancouver, with apology for delay:



“We can send someone out.” That is encouraging. I’d rather see this message: “We will send someone out.” The lag in response would be amusing if it were not so sad. It makes @CityofVancouver look so wannabe, even as it stresses social media in its professed desire to lead in civic engagement!

Does it not seem strange that a 2.3 acre site under application for major redevelopment (including 597 underground parking spaces on 3 levels) would get excavated right now, underneath an existing building that is destined for demolition?

To assist the City of Vancouver, and perhaps relevant environmental authorities from the Province of British Columbia, below are posted for reference eight photos taken of site activity on the morning of 30 Oct 2012, including the two that were tweeted out at that time:

















This posting to Eye on Norquay will be tweeted to @CityofVancouver to assist them in their investigation of and report back on what has been happening at 2220 Kingsway.

Residents of Norquay deserve to be kept fully informed about how their local community is being “revitalized.”


Update of 7 Nov 2012. Having received no response from @CityofVancouver, this morning I have sent the following email to the Province of British Columbia, based on information from the Ministry of Environment about Contaminated Sites :

Through the BC government web site, at Ministry of Environment, under the heading Process for Determining Whether a Site is Contaminated, I read that “requirement for a site profile” can be triggered “when information is received about an independent cleanup taking place.” My attempts to interest City of Vancouver in such a situation have thus far proved fruitless. Perhaps I should have started with Ministry of Environment at the provincial level. You can find details about an apparent “independent cleanup” at
I seek your assurance that contamination of this site has been properly assessed and dealt with. Feel free to contact me by telephone at 604-xxx-xxxx. I do want to hear back from you on this matter. — Joseph Jones



Written by eyeonnorquay

6 November 2012 at 6:19 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Why don’t you call 311 or City Hall instead of tweeting? Seems like a pretty half-assed way to get information.


    7 November 2012 at 6:53 pm

  2. Trying to get information out of CoV is by definition a half-assed undertaking. Typically you face an invitation to pay $500 to get a response to FOI, for example, which is likely to turn out to be a few pages of what you already knew, but severely redacted. You may be amused to know that the city inspector I finally had a conversation with emphasized that he could not “report back” on his findings due to “privacy” issues. He said my best route to learning anything more was FOI! A project for the new year. The un-half-assed aspect of tweeting is that the record and exchange are open to the public.


    26 December 2012 at 10:47 am

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