Toxic Soil Remediation Factory
The Situation at 2220 Kingsway
In early January 2015, the City of Vancouver appears to have handed over a large strip of public property to developer Westbank for a stated period of one year. This action was taken with no notification to surrounding area residents.
1 — East Side of Gladstone Ceded to Westbank for One Year
The entire east side of Gladstone Street between Kingsway and East 30th Avenue has been fenced off with a second fence. This includes actual street area. Most of the area consists of grassed boulevard with trees. Protective fencing for the trees went up in late 2014. Even with this measure in place, one tree is already being directly impacted by a large tank.
Even more disturbing than the takeover of public property is its apparent intended use: a location for a remediation factory to process the construction site’s contaminated soil. This massive amount of equipment has suddenly appeared in the neighborhood with no communication to surrounding area residents.
2 — Toxic Soil Remediation Factory
Lots of Questions
Here is a set of initial questions that is being directed to the City of Vancouver. It would be appropriate for the City of Vancouver to schedule a public meeting in Norquay to discuss this situation with area residents.
1. How can a densely populated area zoned only for residential and commercial uses permit this distinct hazardous industrial use?
2. Why would the City of Vancouver allow processing of toxic soil in a particularly high-traffic area (KFC Chicken across Gladstone to west, Dollarama across Kingsway to north), situated along a designated bicycle route and a major foot-traffic route for students who attend Gladstone Secondary?
3. Why is contaminated soil from the Canadian Tire site not being straightaway trucked off-site for processing in an industrial area?
4. Is developer Westbank trying to cut corners and save money by setting up a toxic soil remediation factory in Norquay?
5. What are the precedents for a Vancouver neighborhood to be subjected to installation of a developer’s toxic soil remediation factory? Would this ever happen west of Main Street?
6. Why is the largest remediation tank allowed to push into [photo 7] one of the mature boulevard trees? What impacts would long-term presence of this equipment have on the boulevard trees (shading, vapors, excretions, pressure on soil and root systems)?
7. What is the nature of the 2220 Kingsway Canadian Tire site contamination? Hydrocarbons? Heavy metals? What else?
8. Is the large coiled drain hose [photo 8] expected to discharge effluent into the city sewer system? What assurance would the City of Vancouver have that the wastewater would be as pure as the rainwater that the system is designed to receive? Would the City of Vancouver itself undertake effective monitoring of the water quality?
9. Since site contamination likely includes hydrocarbons, what additional and uncontrollable impact on air quality could on-site processing produce, and how might that affect area residents?
10. How would the extracted, refined, and therefore significantly more toxic elements be handled? How much leakage and spillage [photo 3] would attend physical transfer of the material? What would be the potential for on-site accident with a large quantity of a concentrated toxic substance?
11. If the processing is not relocated off-site, what noise impacts could be expected from the pumping and processing?
12. What payment is the City of Vancouver receiving for this large appropriation of public property, which includes crucial street parking?
13. What recompense could the local neighborhood expect to see for loss of use of existing community green space and on-street parking? This area clearly is not required for access to the construction site.
A Little Backstory
On 27 October 2014 some unusual activity was observed and photographed at the rear of the Canadian Tire building.
3 — Waste Spillage Occurred on 27 October 2014
It appears that wastewater collected from on-site environmental test drilling had been collected in barrels and was being removed from the barrels by a tanker truck. Note the spillage occurring in this small operation.
Two years earlier, a never-explained burst of activity in the same area was reported at Eye on Norquay as Stealth Remediation?.
4 — Massive Soil Replacement Occurred in October 2012
As I recall, a City of Vancouver inspector eventually told me that I might be able to get additional detail on what he had concluded by doing an FOI, but that he himself could not tell me anything about what had been going on.
5 — Toxic Soil Remediation Factory — North End View
6 — Toxic Soil Remediation Factory — South End View
7 — Toxic Soil Remediation Factory Tank Impacts Boulevard Tree
8 — Coiled Drain Hose = Contaminated Water into City Sewer?