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City kicks in more money for Centennial Park

Published on

George Mathewson

Saying they have little choice but to finish the job, city councillors approved another $250,000 for the Centennial Park remediation project last week.

The money will be taken from reserves to pay for fencing, security, vandalism and other things not covered by the city’s contract with Golder Associates and Bre-X Construction, the administrator and contractor respectively.

The total price tag, including new infrastructure, now stands at $12.8 million.

“This project has spanned two councils, one mayor, two city managers, multiple people on staff … and none of us has been particularly happy about the speed or impediments we’ve had to deal with,” said Coun. Mike Kelch, who once predicted cleaning up the former industrial site on the waterfront could cost $12 million.

“At the same time, that’s our job. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to deal with it, or walk away from the park.”

Centennial Park was closed in 2013 after oil, asbestos and lead were found in the soil, most likely from industrial fill dumped there in the 1960s.

Much of the 38-acre park’s surface has been re-graded and capped with a geotextile fabric and layers of sand and topsoil, along with new amenities and a solid stone shoreline.

New park washrooms opened Monday with operating hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, but the sidewalk leading to the Suncor Agora was closed because its new concrete didn’t pass inspection. It was to be repoured this week at the contractor’s expense.

Coun. Matt Mitro said it was “ridiculous” to agonize over spending a little additional money now.

“A professional, multinational consulting company was engaged in this, and overall put a pretty decent thing together,” he said.

“There’s problems with it, but overall it’s worked. We have a beautiful park that we’re now enjoying again.”

One of those problems is a municipal boat launch in Sarnia Bay that still hasn’t been built. City Hall has about $400,000 set aside for the boat ramp and a parking lot at Sarnia Bay Marina.

A Sept. 11 staff report to council shed little light on why the ramp work has stalled, other than to say they await a design and construction schedule from the two companies.

Coun. Bev MacDougall said people need to understand the complicated environmental remediation had to be done after contamination bubbling up out of the ground.

“I’m not sorry that we cleaned up this park because I have my eye on the future,” she said.

The new spending was approved in a 6-2 vote, with Mayor Mike Bradley and Coun. Dave Boushy opposed.

“I will vote against it,” Boushy said. “And I would say, god help the taxpayers of Sarnia.”













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