Written by By Emily Earl, CNN
Residents of a Toronto neighborhood have raised concern over the potential contamination of a natural pond adjacent to the city’s downtown.
The City of Toronto opened the first segment of a $200 million tramway and rapid transit project Wednesday, which will connect the city’s north and south ends, and is expected to open its first station at the end of 2019.
But while hundreds of nearby residents applauded the transit project, more than 600 of the nearest residents have made their opinions known via an online petition. In just one week, the petition received over 3,500 signatures.
The residents point to a pond they’ve dubbed “Boris Pond,” which is adjacent to the centre of the project. After the first tranche of excavations to build the underground facilities was completed, the residents claim that workers dug into the shore of the pond, and also drained it.
While Metrolinx, the Ontario regional transit organization leading the project, has said that the group has consulted with experts, and confirmed that no underground material has been compromised, local residents’ concerns are based on the environmental risks associated with what they believe to be the drain of soil from the pond’s bottom.
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The residents argue that the pond could not only become contaminated, but that it could cause dangerous levels of noise and odors in the area. They contend that there is enough housing around the pond that residents won’t be affected, and that the project will flood the area if and when the water refills.
As of Jan. 18, the petition has gathered over 8,400 signatures, making it the fourth most popular online petition in the state of Ontario in 2018.
Carol Whyte, spokesperson for the Burlington Area Neighbourhood Collaborative (BBC), the residents’ group that led the petition, said in a statement that they “support the TTC’s decision to build new transit facilities” and are “confident that the potential benefits of the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line far outweigh the potential impact of any environmental contamination”.