Prominent Environmentalist Sarah Miller: Harbour at Risk from Lakefill

Sarah Miller Shares her Deputation Statement to the Executive Committee with NoJetsTO Dredging_Today_Photo_Lakefill_2013-10-04TORONTO - I urge you to oppose expansion of the Billy Bishop Airport. I was unable to depute to the Executive Committee because I was #132 despite my early registration. An issue I have not seen addressed concerning water quality is the impacts of lengthening the runways on water quality in the Inner Harbour. The health of the inner harbour depends on unimpeded water flows through the Western Gap. The extension of the runway to the west intrudes into the Western Gap and will cut down on flows out of the harbour. As you know Toronto Harbour was designated an Area of Concern by the International Joint Commission and the Federal and Provincial with the City have spent hundreds of thousands dollars on a Remedial Action Plan to deal with the contaminated sediments which are deposited in the Harbour from the Don River and storm sewer outflows. Dilution out into Lake Ontario has been selected as the main affordable preferred solution to keep those sediments from building up in the Inner Harbour. This problem was created by the former Harbour Commission, now the Toronto Port Authority.  Their construction of the Keating Channel caused contaminated sediment to build up at the mouth of the Don River. The Port Authority went on to exacerbate the problem by lake filling the Leslie Street Spit (with local contaminated soils) that blocked the currents and flows out the eastern Gap. The TPA also has the responsibility to dredge the sediment problem they have created and dispose of it on the spit in cells closer to our drinking water intakes for the Toronto Island Filtration Plant. However those cells are now full. As an environmental researcher I have worked with others for over 3 decades to find sustainable solutions to these pollution problems. The TPA will be only too happy to continue to make money dredging, transporting and lake filling contaminated sediments that their poor engineering has created even though these activities threaten our drinking water, beaches and improved aquatic habitat and the progress made on the swimmable, drinkable, fishable goals of Toronto's Remedial Action Plan. It will also be likely that the materials used to construct the extensions of the runways will also contain contaminants if the fill comes from local sources. The runway extensions have the potential to setback waterfront cleanup efforts irretrievably. Please do not place private gain before protection of public health and the environment. Sarah Miller, Environmental Researcher