Why doesn’t City release information?
There was a showdown in Pointe-Claire council chamber on November 1. It was part of the ongoing saga of the PCB (poly-chlorinated biphenyl) toxic contamination on Hymus Blvd, pitting the Green Party of Quebec against Pointe-Claire council.
Party leader, Alex Tyrrell, rose in question period to ask why the City of Pointe-Claire has not granted his access-to-information request filed in April and, in fact, is trying to quash the request.
“Why is the city making the effort to keep the soil tests secret?” asked Tyrrell. “This information should be available to the public!”
Mayor Morris Trudeau suggested that all the information was available online, but Tyrrell disputed this.
Tyrrell asked why Pointe-Claire has hired the legal firm of Bélanger Sauvé in an effort to prevent the Green Party from obtaining information about the PCBs. Trudeau referred some questions to city clerk, Jean-Denis Jacob.
After a few short exchanges, Trudeau said, “I believe you have been answered, Mr Tyrrell,” cutting off the debate.
In the scrum outside council chambers, someone asked Tyrrell if the spill had not already been cleaned up. “The drums of PCBs have been hauled away, yes, but the soil is still contaminated there,” Tyrrell responded. He went on to say that, according to tests done by the Journal de Montréal, the contamination has leached onto adjoining properties.
Tyrrell also claims that local children have been playing inside the contaminated property that is not properly secured or signposted. The PCB spill happened at 86 Hymus Blvd.
Tyrrell filed an information request on April 4, 2016, notably asking for all correspondence between Pointe Claire and the Quebec government related to the Hymus Blvd property and a PCB spill in March, 2013. He also requested all correspondence between Pointe-Claire officials and the public relations firm Asterisme.
Tyrrell provided copies of correspondence where Pointe Claire alleges that his request would involve “thousands of documents” as well as considerable manpower and material resources to fulfill. While Tyrrell believes his request only involves a few hundred pages, he subsequently narrowed the scope of his request, but Pointe Claire continues to fight his request.
Tyrrell rhetorically asks what might be so sensitive in this material. He believes that nobody wants to pay the estimated $10 million to haul away the contaminated soil, at least not before the 2017 municipal elections.
Another hot issue at the November 1 council meeting involves a planned 7-metre-wide asphalt bike path planned on what is now municipally-owned green space behind Brigadoon Ave. Local residents claim that there was a lack of consultation on this subject and say many of them have been caring for this land for 30 years. Roula Sawaf claims that over the past year, she and her husband invested $55,000 between their back yard and caring for the green space. “Why didn’t the city tell us what their plans were?”
Among the criticisms of the bike path is that it would be more practical to put it on the road network. “We’re not against bike paths,” spokesman Charles-Henri Brunet told The Times.
By: John Symon – totimes.ca