May 6, 2008

An ongoing history...

Information to the public on the internet is scarce, but I continue to call and inquire with people at various organizations, departments and agencies.

From what I have gathered so far:
- Printed sources of Native history specific to the Black/Harmony/Farewell Creek area are limited, yet there is some indication that Native peoples occupied this watershed. In 1993, an archaeological excavation was conducted to uncover the remains of an early Late Iroquoian village, called the Grandview site. The Grandview site was located southwest from the Taunton community on Lot 3, Concession 3 in Oshawa. (Source: Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. 2009. Black/Harmony/Farewell Creek Watershed Existing Conditions Report Chapter 2 Human Heritage)

The 1950's
- The 35-acre landfill began operation in 1957, accepting solid commercial and industrial waste under the ownership of Industrial Disposal (Oshawa) Ltd.

The 1960's
- In 1968, the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) purchased the property. Prior to this purchase, the Harmony valley site was used by
the Buckaroo Ranch - a children's dude ranch

The 1970's
- In 1976 a matter between Industrial Disposal (Oshawa) Co. v. Ontario (Ministry of the Environment) at the Ontario Environmental Appeal Board discussed sections 77, 78 and 80 of the Environmental Protection as well as a Ministry of the Environment Provisional Certificate of Approval for a Waste Disposal Site located on this site (Lot 3, Concession 3)
- In 1977, CLOCA prepared a master plan for the Harmony Valley site (Harmony Valley Conservation Area Master Plan Report)
- No new waste has been brought to the site since 1979 or 1980, closed on paper in 1980 or 1985. Development is prohibited on a site for 25 years after its closing.

The 1980's
- There have been amendments to the Certificate of Approval (A390102). According to records obtained by the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch of the Ministry of Environment, it was issued in 1985 to Industrial Disposal (Oshawa) Ltd.

The 1990's
- In the 1990's, CLOCA published the Harmony Valley Conservation Area Planning Assessment.
- Coscan Development Corp., which owned three pieces of land near the landfill, asked the City of Oshawa for a zoning amendment to build near the site. The City refused, saying the landfill posed too large an environmental threat to allow residential development so close by, however, the decision was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board which sided with the developer in a 1995 decision.
- Some time in the early 1990's, the monitoring stations I have photographed stopped being monitored. An MOE employee told me that these types of landfills have innocuous impacts, is relatively small and does not generate a lot of contaminants. (BUT how can we know it is not generating contaminants if the site is not being monitored?)
- In a 1993 Ontario Municipal Board hearing, concerns were expressed over leachate monitoring and leachate impact on the West side of the landfill near the subdivisions. (Decision/Order No. 1130). These concerns from the City of Oshawa were dismissed by the Ministry of Environment.
- Coscan Development Corp., which owned three pieces of land near the landfill, asked the City of Oshawa for a zoning amendment to build near the site. The City refused, saying the landfill posed too large an environmental threat to allow residential development so close by, however, the decision was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board which sided with the developer in a 1995 decision. (taken from Oshawa This Week article)

The 2000's
- Industrial Disposal (Oshawa) Ltd. applied to change the name of the owner to Philip Enterprises Ltd. (March 13)
- The Certificate of Approval was amended, to change the name of Philip Enterprises Inc. to Philip Services Inc. (May 26). It is mentioned that the waste disposal site was approved under Section 39 of the Environmental Protection Act. The Section 39
- As a precaution required from the Ontario Municipal Board hearing, the developer is performing monitoring to the West of the landfill every 5 years beginning in 2000. Despite monitoring being performed periodically here, where there is also a leachate collection system, this is not the area I am concerned about.
- In 2003, Philip Services Inc. transferred the land to the current owners (Rossland Acres Inc.). The site was purchased for $100.
- In 2004, Harmony Valley Conservation Area (owned by the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority) was purchased by the City of Oshawa and became Harmony Valley Park.
- In May 2006 the Harmony Valley Park Master Plan was published by Marshall Macklin Monaghan for the City of Oshawa. This document is available online.
There are only a few references to the landfill in this document, among them:
    - At the southwest corner of the site is a former landfill site, which is in private ownership.
    - Landfill, if remediated, could allow for future expansion of the park site. (listed as an opportunity)
    - Unknown future of surrounding adjacent projects (Rossland Road, Landfill) make planning for edges difficult. (listed as a constraint)
    - Landfill safety and environmental concerns will affect the park in the short term. (listed as a constraint)
- In July 2006, the City of Oshawa's Development Services Committee published a report "Proposal to Develop a Common Elements Condominium Medi Terra Properties Corporation, 711 Grandview St". This is available on their website.
- In 2008 documents from the Ontario Municipal Board (C-O-2007-05), Urban Bau Corporation is in the process of building common elements condominium tied to a 67 unit block townhouse 711 Grandview Street (on the south-west edge of the landfill). The site is currently owned by CFI Holdings Inc. The plan was initially approved in 1995 by the Ontario Municipal Board.
- In early June, 2008 the landfill property at land to the south was listed for sale on the MLS website. Listed as a 70 acre vacant land property, the sale price asked for $4,900,000. This encompasses 20 acres of the Harmony Creek landfill and 50 acres to the south. The sale was terminated on June 13, 2008.
- In 2009 Sarah Ross and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper submitted an Application for Investigation to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. This was accepted, and has resulted in monitoring of the site by the Ministry of Environment.

The 2010's
- The IDOL site is subject to periodic monitoring by the Ministry of Environment.
- The landfill property was sold to a different owner (details and date unknown). The Ministry of Environment has been in contact with the new owner.

Is anyone monitoring this?

This is the big question! So far in my search I have come up empty handed. Intriguingly, there seem to be two monitoring stations where this leaching is occuring. One is made of white plastic and is located downstream of the leaching area, and the second is a metal blue box with a lock on it. I can not tell if either are still operational, and calls to various local agencies have not given me any information on
a) Who owned the site in the past and who currently owns it?
b) What was monitored at these stations in the past and is any monitoring conducted now? What parameters have been monitored and what is the protocol for monitoring?

These sites must belong to someone. My aim is to find out who, and what - if anything - is being monitored here. Delving into the history is interesting, but even more important is the current situation. Whose responsibility is it to monitor the site and ensure heavy metals are not leaching into the water?

Below are pictures of the "monitoring stations" from various angles.

My concern

A few weeks ago, while walking my dog, I noticed an unnerving rusty-coloured area along the path that I usually take. I have heard from a long-time resident that this site used to be a private dump site for some nasty things, so this sudden appearance (to me) caused me to do some digging.

Firstly, I took pictures of the site on April 22. I have posted some below. According to a family member of mine, it started just after the spring snow melt. It looks like iron or something, but not having a toxicological background or the thousands of dollars for testing I can not say for sure.

This is very concerning because a) the area is heavily used by dog walkers and other people, b) there is a subdivision directly adjacent to the area, and c) anything leaching out ends up in the Harmony Creek and Lake Ontario (which supplies our drinking water)! Is anyone watching and keeping an eye on this?

"We've poured our poisons into the world as though it were a bottomless pit.. and we go on gobbling them up. It's hard to imagine how the world could survive another century of this abuse, but nobody's really doing anything about it. It's a problem our children will have to solve, or their children."
- Daniel Quinn -

Where is this landfill exactly?

Probably unknown to many, an inactive landfill in Oshawa has come to my attention. Despite my investigative skills, I have not been able to come up with much information on the site.

Its geographic location is in North Oshawa just east of the intersection of Harmony and Rossland Road. It is surrounded by Grandview Street to the West, Corbett's Park to the North, and Harmony Valley Park (formerly the Harmony Valley Conservation Area) to the East. Maps are published on the June 2 post.

The landfill looks awfully like a large, harmless hill. With little details made available - despite my efforts - I am interested in any history, personal accounts or other information anyone may have! You may post comments here or e-mail me at