'Chasing phantoms': Hamilton council will stop looking for Chedoke Creek whistleblower

Hamilton city council will stop searching for a whistleblower who went public with a massive spill of toxic material into Chedoke Creek.

'We've been down this road before. It never amounts to anything'

Hamilton council has voted to not seek out and punish whoever leaked information about the Chedoke Creek discharge. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Hamilton city council will stop searching for a whistleblower who went public about a massive spill of sewage and storm runoff into Chedoke Creek, saying it's akin to "chasing phantoms."

Councillors voted Wednesday to drop the whistleblower issue. They had previously talked about working with police to identify and punish whoever slipped an anonymous tip about the 24 billion litre spill into the creek.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said afterward that the search wasn't likely to bear fruit anyway.

"I'm not interested in chasing phantoms," he said. "It's a fool's errand. We've been down this road before. It never amounts to anything, so why go through this exercise?

"Done is done and we need to move forward."

Council has faced intense criticism over its handling of the Chedoke Creek issue.

From 2014 to 2018, a bypass gate at a facility that houses Hamilton's largest combined sewage tank was left partially open. The city admitted to a leak last year, but the magnitude only became public when someone submitted an anonymous tip to the Hamilton Spectator. Before that, council discussed the issue in closed session.

Council discussed the whistleblower issue in closed session Wednesday too. Coun. John-Paul Danko of Ward 8 (west Mountain) said while the Chedoke Creek information leak was "of public benefit," he doesn't like that issues discussed in camera are leaked.

"It's a symptom of a larger problem," he said.


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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