Ottawa

Victoria Island to close for contamination cleanup

A multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to clean up contaminated soil on Victoria Island is getting underway.

Soil samples found elevated levels of contamination: NCC

In this closure map, the yellow shading represents areas of Victoria Island that are currently restricted; the orange shading represents parts of the island that will be restricted starting in October and November; and the red shading represents the remaining area that will close in December. (National Capital Commission)

A multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to clean up contaminated soil on Victoria Island is getting underway.

The island in the Ottawa River, considered a sacred site by Indigenous groups, will eventually be closed to visitors as part of the environmental remediation plan, according to a release from the National Capital Commission (NCC). 

Progressive closures will be introduced each month:

  • October: Fencing installed along Portage Bridge, no public access from the bridge.
  • November: Fencing placed across Middle Street, east side of island closed.
  • December: Fencing placed at Chaudières entrance, entire island closed.

The closure comes after soil samples taken from the island found elevated levels of contaminants including metal, ash, lead, zinc and gasoline. The NCC said those contaminants are similar to what are found at industrial sites from the late 1800s.

In recent history, Victoria Island has been occupied by foundries, metallurgical companies, factories and saw mills.

The discovery required immediate attention in order to "ensure the long-term safety of both human health and the environment," according to the NCC.

The project will take seven years and cost an estimated $13 million. 

An NCC spokesperson told Radio-Canada officials have met with tenants and Indigenous groups to make them aware of the timeline, and will work with those groups to support them throughout the project.

The work is expected to be done in two phases and will continue until 2025.