$120,000 Fine for Ontario Water Resources Act Violations

Written by on March 20, 2017. Posted in Environmental litigation and enforcement, Water

Aecon Construction and Materials Limited (“Aecon”) is in the business of constructing complex highway infrastructure, airfields projects, residential and commercial developments, landfills,  and bridges in addition to other large infrastructure projects.

On February 8, 2017 Aecon pled guilty to two offences under the Ontario Water Resources Act (“OWRA”) for discharging material into water than may impair the quality of the water and failing to report the discharge. In addition to receiving a fine of $120,000 (plus the 25% victim fine surcharge) Aecon was issued a Court Order requiring the construction of a fish habitat embayment in the Rideau River watershed.

Aecon was contracted by Northland Power Solar McCann Inc. to construct a 10 megawatt solar generation facility located in the Township of Rideau Lakes.  Construction of the McCann project started in mid-2012 and proceeded throughout 2013.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) received complaints on January 31, 2012, April 15, 2013 and May 23, 2013 that stormwater runoff containing sediment was being discharged into Hudson Bay and the source was thought to be from the McCann project.  The MOECC commenced an investigation and noticed what it referred to as significant sediment outside of the project’s fenced area and observed discolouration in the watercourse. This discolouration was also observed by the MOECC by in the southern portion of Hudson’s Bay in Big Rideau Lake.

Sampling taken by the MOECC confirmed concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS) that exceeded the water quality guidelines.

Aecon was given a period of one year to pay the fine. The Court Ordered fish habitat embayment to be constructed by Aecon is limited to a cost of $150,000 either in direct expenditures or in-kind services billed on a cost recovery basis.