Pointe-Fortune halts dumping and backfilling on its territory
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Residents of Pointe-Fortune were told possibly contaminated soils from construction debris were being tested but testing private well water is the responsibility of the owner.
Dumping and backfilling of any kind, regardless of whether the contents come from outside the village or not, has come to an end in the Municipality of Pointe-Fortune according to Mayor François Bélanger. That was part of the statement the mayor read on behalf of council during a special meeting held Monday, April 8. The statement was in response to the questions and concerns expressed by citizens in a letter deposited at the regular monthly council meeting held the previous week. The letter was presented by resident Lucie Lacelle, spokesperson for the recently formed Regroupement des Citoyens de la Communauté de Pointe-Fortune.
Allegations of illegal dumping
The source for their concern was an episode of the Radio Canada program Enquête broadcast March 14 that exposed a situation where potentially contaminated soil from a construction site in Montreal was allegedly illegally dumped in a wetland area of the municipality.
The response from the municipality attempted to reassure the crowd of 30 citizens the allegations were being taken seriously and the council was following the matter. The mayor noted certain doubts had been raised concerning the quality of the soil dumped on some of the lots following an analysis of documentation by an outside consulting firm. The documentation in question was provided by applicants for a certificate of authorization to proceed with dumping and backfilling.
“The municipality has requested soil characterization studies of the lots in question and we are awaiting the results of those studies,” said the mayor.
In addition, during the Monday, April 1 council meeting, a notice of motion was approved to amend By-law 278-5 that regulates granting of certificates of authorization for backfilling and dumping.
“That effectively freezes any permits issued under the by-law,” said the mayor. No certificate of authorization can be issued under the by-law by the municipality until the proposed regulation is adopted. Director General Jean-Charles Filion pointed out that renewals of certificates would not be allowed.
“They will have to re-apply and begin the process again,” he said. When asked about the timeline for amending the by-law, the mayor replied it was impossible to be exact because it was a legal process that would take due time.
Possible Local well contamination
One of the major concerns raised by Lacelle and other residents was the possible contamination of local potable water wells. The mayor reiterated the testing of the dumping locations was in progress. As to the question of testing private wells, he said that was the responsibility of the individual property owner.
Quebec Ministry of the Environment
Lacelle asked council if it had received information from the Ministère de l'Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC) regarding the dumping situation. The mayor confirmed reception of documentation from the government including the results of soil testing that had been carried out. However, he said that council had not yet had the chance to read and analyze the documentation. He hoped it would be done in time to report on the situation at the next council meeting in May.
“There’s a paper trail for the source and delivery of the potentially contaminated soil. It has to be investigated,” Bélanger told The Journal following the meeting. Investigating that paper trail was included in their communications with the MELCC. For the Village of Pointe-Fortune, one of their major issues is a lack of human resources as the mayor pointed out. Lacelle responded that Regroupement des Citoyens de la Communauté de Pointe-Fortune wanted to work with the council on the issue. As she emphasized in an interview with The Journal on Thursday, April 4, “We know we have limited resources as a municipality and we are here to help.” When asked at the end of the meeting on April 8 if she was satisfied with the town’s response, she replied with an emphatic affirmative.