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City of Edmonton removes fencing around park near former Domtar site, deemed safe


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Coun. Aaron Paquette said Saturday the remediation and environmental orders that fenced off large areas and the city’s park have been a long, ongoing headache for nearby residents, including in the Hermitage, Homesteader, and Overlanders areas. The former Domtar site remains fenced off.

“The part that people loved to walk down is still closed, but there’s some open now – that will be great for families and for kids who’ve been waiting for a very long time for this,” said Paquette.

The city’s green space was once used widely, so residents are glad it can be used again, he said.

“And obviously we’re trusting that it is indeed safe,” said Paquette.

The former Domtar site is seen fenced off due to industrial contamination along Hermitage Road in northeast Edmonton, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak
The former Domtar site is seen fenced off due to industrial contamination along Hermitage Road in northeast Edmonton, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

City spokeswoman Pam Hnytka said the city was able to open the area after receiving confirmation it was safe from the area developer, Cherokee Canada.

“The city has been provided with a copy of an environmental site assessment from the area showing that recent soil samples have shown there is no contamination in this portion of the park,” Hnytka said in a statement.

But, she said a small area in the north portion of the park exceeds Alberta Health screening levels and it, along with a buffer zone, will remain fenced until further assessment or remediation is completed.

Provincial health officials have been studying contaminants in the area and potential health risks, along with experts from the federal government, since 2019.

Alberta Health Services spokeswoman Zoe Cooper said in a statement the work related to the former Domtar site remains paused while public health officials focus on the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The Homesteader infill site, which includes lands where Domtar operated, is owned by brownfield developer Cherokee Canada. The company has said the community is safe. A May 2020 update to its Homesteader Responds website indicated that COVID-19 had caused some disruption, but the company hoped remediation work would be completed this summer.

Paquette said residents have not been getting regular updates, and were tired of being left out of the conversation.

“Residents are still waiting,” said Paquette.

The former Domtar site has been fenced off due to industrial contamination, seen along Hermitage Road in northeast Edmonton, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak
The former Domtar site has been fenced off due to industrial contamination, seen along Hermitage Road in northeast Edmonton, on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

lijohnson@postmedia.com

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