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Cleanup of soil, groundwater contamination planned at former Kitchener bus terminal

The former bus terminal at 15 Charles Street is in the early stages of being redeveloped into a community hub. (Engage Region of Waterloo) The former bus terminal at 15 Charles Street is in the early stages of being redeveloped into a community hub. (Engage Region of Waterloo)

The Region of Waterloo is set to begin the process of environmental remediation at the former Charles Street bus terminal in Kitchener.

Councillors signed off on a recommendation from staff to move ahead with a risk assessment at a Planning and Works Committee meeting on Tuesday morning.

It comes after an engineering consulting firm found concerns in both the soil and groundwater at the site.

The former terminal at 15 Charles Street West is in the early stages of being redeveloped as a community hub.

“I think there’s great anticipation in the community about this project,” Coun. Jim Erb told the meeting Tuesday. “And the sooner we can move it along, it just satisfies a whole range of opportunities for us.”

A risk assessment is a scientific study that outlines the possible dangers to humans, animals and the environment from exposure to a contaminant.

Staff say the results of the assessment are not expected to put significant restrictions on redevelopment, but could include a health and safety plan for construction workers, considerations for how contaminated materials would be removed and stored, or restrictions on putting residential units or a daycare on the first floor of a future building.

A community-wide survey in 2021 determined the redevelopment’s main priorities would be affordable housing, climate action, equity, diversity and inclusion, and a thriving economy.

In 2022, MTE Consultants Inc. completed an environmental and geotechnical analysis of the site as part of the redevelopment process.

The analysis found shallow soil contamination from lead and hydrocarbons and deeper soil contamination from waste from past demolition of buildings. It also found road salt impacts throughout the soil and groundwater contamination from chlorinated solvents, metals and acid/base/neutrals compounds.

The risk assessment approved Tuesday will be the first step towards environmental remediation at the site.

A working group has been set up to allow the region and City of Kitchener staff to work together on the project.

The third and fourth phases of community engagement are expected to continue over the coming months as stakeholder groups are identified and design workshops are held.

The decision to move ahead with the risk assessment is expected to receive final approval at the next regular regional council meeting. Top Stories

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