Contaminants remain in popular Ottawa park


The soil and groundwater in Hurdman Park contains numerous contaminants, with nearly 50 total hectares contaminated by four individual sites, a federal database shows.

The organization responsible for the park, the National Capital Commission, lists Hurdman Park as an urban green space and as valued natural habitat. However, the NCC refused to answer any questions about whether the contaminants were a concern or if the contaminants were hazardous. The City of Ottawa refused to make anyone from Ottawa Public Health available for comment.

The interactive map shows the contaminated sites in Hurdman Park. Click on a site to find out more information.

Data from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Mario Tremblay, a strategic communications advisor for the NCC who works on capital planning and land use, said by email that the Hurdman sites have been “subject to environment site assessments…which have characterized the environmental quality of the soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment.” He did not clarify what the quality had been characterized as.

“[D]ue to active construction at these properties… any further action such as development of remedial action plans will not commence until construction at these sites is completed,” he said.

The federal database lists all four sites in Hurdman Park as having “detailed testing completed” and states that remedial action plans are under development.

The active construction at Hurdman Park for the LRT Confederation Line is scheduled to end in Winter 2017.

Tremblay said that all sites have been subject to a “Phase II ESA,” an environmental site assessment. However, the website for AEL environment, an environmental engineering firm based in Mississauga, states that “Phase III ESA is the phase at which remedial work occurs to address contamination,” meaning that it is only with in Phase III that contaminants are actually removed and not just identified as being in the soil.

Two of the sites are listed as needing additional assessment and remedial activities, suggesting that the contaminants in the soil are worthy of attention and need to be removed. All four sites are listed as high priority for action.

The listed contaminants include petroleum hydrocarbons, or PHCs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which come from oil, coal or bitumen. The contaminants also contain metals and metalloids. Though experts contacted for this article were unable to confirm how hazardous the contaminants at Hurdman Park are, the Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment website states that “PHC contamination can cause a wide variety of problems related to their toxicity, mobility and persistence” and a 2010 report from the same organization lists the “unsubstantiated PAHs that are known or strongly suspected to act as carcinogens in humans.” The federal database does not specify whether substantiated or unsubstantiated PAHs are present in the park.

Formerly a city dump, Hurdman Park is now a popular park for cyclists and runners, who don’t seem to mind the pipes emerging from the ground that funnel methane gas from the remainder of the landfill into the air.

Tubes like this one are common in the park. They allow for the methane from the landfill buried beneath the park to escape.
Nathaniel Dove

Mike Giunta lives nearby. He says that the contamination doesn’t bother him. “Contamination, it’s relative. I mean, the river is probably contaminated too, at some level. I wouldn’t drink the water out of it. It doesn’t concern me”

“I don’t know if anyone wants to have their house on it but I think, as it is, it’s probably fine.”

Mike Giunta lives near Hurdman. He says the contamination doesn’t bother him.
Nathaniel Dove

Roseanne and Greg Hart have lived near the park for decades and frequently walk through it, even on this cold December day. While they both knew the site used to be a dump, they were unaware that they were standing metres from a listed contaminated site.

Roseanne and Greg Hart have been walking through the park for decades. They were unaware of the extent of the contamination.
Nathaniel Dove

“I think it’s good for a green space,” said Greg. “Just don’t go digging it up,” said Roseanne.


The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment report mentioned in this article, as well as a report commissioned by the City of Ottawa in 1988 to investigate sites that may have contaminants, are below.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons 2010 (En) (Text)

Intera Mapping and Assessment of Former Industrial Sites (Text)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *