Environmental groups across Kingston are joining forces against the development of a contaminated site.
No Clear Cuts Kingston, Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis (QBACC), and the AMS Commission of Environmental Sustainability are hosting a gala in Grant Hall on Nov. 3, to raise money for expert witnesses in an upcoming Ontario Land Tribunal hearing regarding the Davis Tannery site in Kingston.
The Davis Tannery site, contaminated with heavy metals, has been the subject of debate for sometime. The 37-acre site along the Great Cataraqui River is a wetland home to many native animal and plant species, according to environmental groups.
“This is an opportunity for students at an affluent university to make a vital difference in the surrounding community,” Ryan Kuhar, AMS commissioner of environmental sustainability, said in an interview with The Journal.
The Stop the Chop Gala will tempt students and community members with speakers, food, and a silent auction. No Clear Cuts Kingston hopes the money raised will contribute to the $24,000 still needed to achieve their goal of $50,000 before the January hearing. Tickets cost $55, and David Suzuki is set to call in for a question-and-answer session with attendees. So far, Kuhar reported a third of tickets have been sold.
“Hopefully, this will be very informational for the people who come and very immersive,” Kuhar said.
Developer Jay Patry’s proposal called for chopping 1,600 trees and removing approximately 400,000 tonnes of contaminated soil to build 1,600 residential units, according to the Kingston Whig-Standard. In a move lauded by the David Suzuki Foundation, Kingston City Council voted against the development of the site in 2022.
Patry filed an appeal to the land tribunal shortly after. If the tribunal sides in favour of the developer in January, the project will likely go ahead.
“The development proposed by this specific group, who doesn’t have the greatest track record for responsible development, is essentially to excavate and disrupt the soil under the site and then cap the adjacent wetland,” Kuhar said.
Since the closure of the tannery, contaminants from the site have sunk into the ground. Redevelopment would disturb these contaminants and the ecosystem which has grown around them. Kuhar visited the site himself and attested to the wetland’s thriving wildlife.
“There’s beaver populations, there’s herons, kingfishers, and the fact that there are these aquatic predators, shows the wetland is quite prosperous. There’s muskrats, there’s other rodents. It’s a beautiful little ecosystem and it’s survived quite well,” Kuhar said.
If the contaminants were brought back up to surface, Kuhar worries they might impact the Thousand Islands and other environments in the Kingston area.
“It’s not just supposed to be a gala for people to come have fun, it’s also supporting this other cause. It’s supposed to be a gala very much teaching people about the cause,” Kuhar said. “I’m very excited to share this with people and come together in a room where people come from a similar perspective on this project.”
With live music and mingling in support of a good cause, Kuhar is confident Queen’s students will play a role in protecting the Davis Tannery site.
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.