The highlighted box in the lower left corner of this map shows the location of the Jubilee wetlands damaged when developers dumped soil on the area several years ago.

New remediation plans for damaged wetlands to be presented

City council to review remediation plan for disturbed Jubilee wetlands at Monday meeting

The developers responsible for disturbing sensitive wetlands off of Jubilee Parkway have submitted a new remediation plan to the city.

The report was submitted following another deadline extension imposed on the developers by the city.

Ron Neufeld, deputy city manager, said it will now be up to city council as to whether or not the new remediation plans are accepted.

“I can confirm that the QEP (Qualified Environmental Professional’s) report that we have received related to the restoration of the disturbed fen south of Jubilee will be on the agenda for council’s receipt on Monday,” Neufeld told the Mirror on Wednesday.

That’s after the city informed Parkway Properties Joint Venture – the developers responsible for the damage – that it had until July 31 to submit a remediation plan or else the city would do its own remediation work at the developers’ expense.

Parkway has also had October, 2015, November, 2015 and March and April, 2016 deadlines extended.

In a letter from George Stuart, principal of Parkway Properties, to the city in April, 2016 which was obtained by the Mirror through a Freedom of Information request, Stuart outlines the company’s remediation proposal recommended by its QEP McElhanney.

The plan he proposes is to “remediate 0.5 ha (hectares) of the fen with available peat materials on site, and re-grade the remaining 1.9 ha of disturbed areas to support the preservation of the remaining and remediated fen. The regraded area will be planted with native species of understory plants and new trees to protect the fen from invasive species.”

To make up for the area that McElhanney believes is irreparable, Parkway is proposing that “additional compensation of lands in the southwest corner of the property will be protected by covenant as mature forest.”

Neufeld, in a letter to Stuart dated May 11, 2016, confirmed the city was in receipt of that proposal but that more was needed.

“The proposed remediation plan for 0.52 hectares of disturbed fen has been supported by both city and provincial staff,” Neufeld wrote. “This is encouraging. There does not, however, appear to be agreement as to the appropriate treatment for the remaining 1.9 hectares of disturbed fen.”

That remaining portion is expected to be addressed in the remediation plan that will be before council on Monday.

“It is our expectation that this report will address the various options for bringing the site into compliance by returning the affected area as close as reasonably possible to its original state and outlining compensation options where remediation is not practical,” Mayor Andy Adams wrote in a letter to Stuart on June 15. “

As you are aware, this issue is taking significant time to bring to resolution and there is a public expectation that this will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.”

The fen was disturbed and the wetlands altered over a seven year period, between 2007 and early 2014, as developers dumped soil over the area while developing a subdivision on the opposite, northern side of Jubilee Parkway.

As a result, the fen area was drained of water through the installation of ditches which changed the hydrology of the area. A remediation report from McElhanney to the city also revealed that, “fen vegetation was stripped and removed (and) with the exception of a small area, all organic soils and peat were removed from the fen basin” which changed vegetation composition and invasive species.

The work was completed without proper approvals in place and in response, the city, once it became aware of the issue, slapped Parkway with a Remedial Action Requirement last summer.

Since last year, Parkway has been working with McElhanney to come up with a rehabilitation plan for the wetlands.

The province got involved later last year after a member of the public filed a complaint that Parkway may have contravened the province’s Water Act.

A resulting investigation found two contraventions – that changes were made in and about a stream without lawful authority and that Parkway failed to report damage to a stream.

As such, the province ruled that, “the company is legally required to immediately return the site back to its natural state in the southern portion of the damaged wetland area.”

Bryce Casavant, the province’s compliance and enforcement specialist who handled the case, wrote that the province accepts remediation of the 0.52 ha of disturbed fen with existing peat, but does not approve of the compensation plans.

“It is our expectation that it will be ‘like for like’ or ‘as close as possible’ compensation and that total compensated lands will exceed the damage done – thereby leaving a ‘positive’ addition to protected areas,” Casavant wrote.

“Acceptable compensation for the leftover northern damaged area will be left to the city for determination in consultation with subject matter experts.”

As for Parkway, Stuart wrote in his April letter to the city that the company is trying to rectify the situation.

“We at Parkway Properties have acted responsibly by acknowledging the issue, and have provided what we feel is a remediation and compensation plan that will resolve that issue.”