Controversy over Stanton Drain project continues
Internal city hall correspondence appears to indicate that some staff had serious environmental concerns about the storm-water pond construction project in London’s Hyde Park area.
But while emails suggest a number of people had reservations about the Stanton Drain remediation project, it seems too much taxpayer money had already been spent and council directed the project go ahead.
The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Annamaria Vallastro, an environmental activist.
She is at the forefront of a campaign to halt the paving over of what’s been deemed a natural heritage wetland.
“When you feel that your city might be doing something illegal…people need more of these spaces, not less of these spaces.”
In one email sent Sept. 11, 2012, Andrew Macpherson, the environmental manager with the City of London said “The project failed to meet the test of the City’s [Environmental Impact Statement] guideline…do not comply with [Official Plan] policy City guidelines and likely provincial policy.”
An email from John Braam, a city engineer, sent on Sept. 16, 2012 states “I believe we have invested about 10 million into the original design [since 2002]. Without a clear understanding on how we move forward…our Councillors may believe that we are disconnected.”
Braam tells CTV News by phone that they were working with an environmental assessment that had been done ten years prior, and that standards have since changed, and that the city has gone beyond the legal requirements and that public is not being thwarted in any way.
He also says city staff has been advised against making public comments as the matter is before the courts.
But Vallastro says “If something is a bad project, it’s a bad project. You don’t go forward with bad planning just because ten years ago you invested some money.”
City councillor Joe Swan also turns up in the correspondence in an email dated Oct. 13, 2012.
“Seems like a lot of wasted time…What happened to responding ONLY to questions about beavers…You have a hostile advocate who will stop at nothing to reverse a 12 year multi million dollar investment.”
Swan did not return messages on Friday.
Meanwhile, two more storm-water projects are in the works, and Vallastro says she hopes to ensure the public gets a say in how they proceed.