Montreal gets $75M from province to clean up contaminated sites

According to the Environment Ministry, 20 per cent of contaminated land registered in Quebec is in Montreal.

According to the Environment Ministry, 20% of contaminated land registered in Quebec is in Montreal

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced today a $75 million donation from the provincial government to help the city clean up contaminated sites. (CBC)

Quebec has injected $75 million to help Montreal decontaminate parts of the island — but the city has yet to decide where exactly the money will go.

According to the Environment Ministry, about 20 per cent of contaminated land registered in Quebec is in Montreal.

At an announcement Sunday at the Verdun Cultural Centre, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said more decontamination means more municipal land for development.

This could include social housing, green spaces and schools.

Private companies will also have the opportunity to get funding to decontaminate their land, but the number of projects will depend on the gravity of the contamination, as some projects are more expensive than others.

Plante said up to 75 per cent of decontamination costs will be covered by the province's money, the rest would need to come from the other parties involved. 

She plans to unveil the criteria for how that funding will be distributed in the coming months.

Garbage dumps under residential areas

In 2015, a CBC/Radio-Canada investigation found there could be as many as 62 former garbage dumps on the island, buried beneath parks and residential lots.

Another 2015 investigation by Radio-Canada found nearly 80 contaminated sites with hundreds of buildings, schools and parks built on them.

Residents at the time were concerned with the price of decontamination.

Now, environmentalist and Deputy Leader of the Green Party Daniel Green said the money is good news, but that more is needed.

"It's a drop in the bucket," Green said. "To clean up a hundred years of industrialization is going to cost Canadian society a lot of money."

With files from CBC's Matt D'Amours