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Mayor seeking answers and solutions on Randle Reef funding gap

Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina expects to meet with the major players in the Randle Reef project in the next week to discuss what’s holding up the long-awaited harbour remediation.
Mayor Bob Bratina wants answers on why the Randle Reef cleanup project is stalled. (Courtesy Environment Canada)

Hamilton’s mayor expects to meet with the major players in the Randle Reef project in the next week to discuss what’s holding up the long-awaited harbour remediation.

Mayor Bob Bratina contacted the federal and provincial governments earlier this week to discuss the stalled project, which involves boxing off the largest coal tar contamination site in Canada.

Environment Canada announced earlier this week that the $138.9-million project is delayed because all of the tender bids are over budget. Bratina wants to know why that is, and how quickly it can be fixed.

“I want to try to determine how serious the gap is,” he said.

“We went through so much careful planning, and peer reviews of peer reviews, to determine with smart people in the industry if we have a useful budget. Then we put it out and nope, they can’t come in at that.”

The project calls for the construction of a 7.5-hectare containment facility in Hamilton Harbour. (Kevin Gamble/CBC, Google Maps)

It could be a matter of rising material costs, or liability matters for the bidding companies, he said. If the estimates were seriously off, “that’s a problem.”

The reef is an underwater mass of about 130,000 cubic metres of coal tar just offshore from U.S. Steel. The project involves putting the mass into what is essentially a big steel box called an engineered containment facility.

The federal government is contributing $46.3 million to the project. The Hamilton Port Authority will take ownership of the site and use it as a pier once it had been capped.

The City of Hamilton, the City of Burlington, U.S. Steel, Halton Region are also part of the project. U.S. Steel will provide about $14 million worth of steel.

Coun. Sam Merulla was due to introduce a motion on Monday asking the mayor to invite the federal and provincial governments to discuss the delay. Merulla says he likely will not introduce it now, but he’s pleased the mayor has taken the step.

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