Environmental Investigations + Studies

The Ontario government is adhering to the applicable legislation and regulations in all the environmental and ecological work completed on site.

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Key objectives include:

  • Create up-to-date understanding of the environmental conditions, wildlife and ecosystems on site, and follow best practices that protect future users of the site and environment.
What is the condition of soil and groundwater on the site?

Ontario Place was constructed using urban fill, a soil matrix that contains other materials such as brick, cement, and coal.  This was common practice at the time, but we now know that it is often impacted with low levels of contamination.  

To better understand the conditions on site, the province is undertaking soil and groundwater investigations.  This involves drilling narrow boreholes at various locations across the site.  Soil is sampled at different depths and wells are installed to allow groundwater to be sampled.  These samples determine the presence or absence of contamination.   

We will use a risk-management approach to ensure the site is safe for development. Risk management measures may include things like specific types of construction or “capping” the site under a layer of clean soil or a hard material such as concrete. The province is applying best practices to address any contamination on site, and is working with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to meet statutory requirements (for example ‘record of site condition’), where applicable.

What is a record of site condition?

A record of site condition (RSC) is a process managed by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to document that a specific property does not have soil or groundwater contamination that exceeds the established criteria for the site and can be considered safe for the proposed property use. 

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment scientifically examines the risk posed to humans, plants, wildlife and the natural environment from exposure to a contaminant. The purpose of a risk assessment is to develop property specific standards that will protect the uses that are being proposed to take place on the property. 

What are risk management measures?

Risk management measures are actions that can be taken at a site to reduce the risk of exposure to a contaminant.  Examples include isolating the contamination by sealing it under pavement or clean soil, preventing the use of groundwater for drinking water, and using specialized construction techniques.

What is being done to protect the site’s ecology?

It is important to understand the ecosystem and its components before starting construction at Ontario Place.  To establish a baseline understanding of the site, the province completed numerous ecological investigations throughout 2022. These included environmental analysis, Species at Risk surveys, building and structural habitat assessments, arborist reports, aquatic surveys, and wildlife survey work.  All this information identified current conditions and will help mitigate any potential impact of the redevelopment.  

Current status

A Natural Heritage Impact Study (NHIS) has been completed and submitted to the City of Toronto for the East Island, West Island, and Mainland areas at Ontario Place.  

Species at Risk surveys have been undertaken to confirm the presence or absence of Barn Swallows, Species at Risk bats and American Eel.  Acoustic surveys have confirmed that there are no Species at Risk bats.  Habitat compensation for Barn Swallows was installed in 2022.  Investigations regarding potential impacts to American Eel are still underway.  

Site monitoring of natural heritage features will continue throughout the redevelopment project.  The NHIS and arborist reports will continue to be updated as site information is collected.

Project documents

Relevant documents continue to be added as they become available.