Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Notes from the EA front lines, Part II

I attended another public forum (see EA Part I) in the Don Mouth Naturalization Environmental Assessment. The EA process is a rather long affair and this one is slated to continue until 2008. The stage they are at now is drafting the terms of reference. Last fall they were collecting ideas for possible alternatives. What they have done so far is short list the alternatives. They have sensibly discarded four alternatives which were very impractical and are concentrating their efforts on three main alternatives. Actually there are four alternatives but the #1 is do nothing which is requirement for an EA. I will summarize the other three alternatives – the do something proposals.

Alternative #2: Bring Back the Don Idea

This proposal was originally created by the Task Force to Bring Back the Don as early as 1991. The plan is to have the riverbed shifted westward just south of the Lakeshore railway line. It would be routed through a section of land bordered by the DVP, Lakeshore Blvd East, Cherry St and the railway tracks. This land is collectively known as 480 Lakeshore. Adjacent to the river would be added riparian marshes. The river mouth would empty into the inner harbour at about the same place where the Keating Channel now ends. The channel would be filled in. Depending on design issues, there might be room for a lacustrine marsh in the north east corner of the harbour.

Alternative #3: Dalton Shipway's Idea

I call it this because this has been Dalton's pet idea for as long as I have been around. This plan would close the Keating Channel and construct a new channel straight south to join up with the Turning Basin channel between Commissioners and Unwin. The land in 480 Lakeshore would not be used.

Alternative #4: Combo Plan

This is just a combination of alternatives #2 and #3.

Here's why alternative #2 is the better plan. One of the criteria for developing this plan is flood protection of the land east of the Don River. During Hurricane Hazel parts of the city south of Queen St. as far east as Greenwood were flooded up to 1 metre deep. In order to alleviate that, the Don Mouth project has to address it. Alternative #2 allows for a small berm to be built between the river and the DVP, north of Lakeshore Blvd. This room is not available in alternatives 3 & 4.

Alternative #2 allows for a small but usable gradient between the railway bridge and the mouth. This will create a slow but moving river. Digging a channel straight south is no more useful then the current Keating Channel. It's a no flow situation since this channel will be at the same level as the lake.

One darkly humorous term used in the the presentation was “sustainability framework”. This is something the Waterfront Revitalization folks thought up and it deals with (among other things) contaminated soil cleanup. It has nothing to do with environmental sustainability and everything to do with risk management. For example there is more soil to cleanup in alternative #2 so the SF rating is high. There is less soil to cleanup in alternative #3 so its SF is low. This gives a skewed higher rating to alternative #3, something which I criticized in my comments.

Regardless of my rant, the process moves on. We just have to keep plugging away to ensure that what is actually done in the end is the right thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.