The citizens of Pickering and Ajax are bolstering efforts to have the Province of Ontario and the Regions of Durham and York eliminate algae-inducing output from the Duffin Creek sewage treatment plant.

Treated sewage, which flows into Lake Ontario, contains large amounts of phosphorous, creating an ideal environment for the growth of Cladophora algae on the Ajax waterfront. The foul odour of the algae makes the waterfront virtually unusable by residents in the summer and has also clogged cooling water intakes at the Pickering nuclear plant.

Paul Kuebler, co-chair of Pickering Ajax Citizens Together to Protect Our Water (PACT POW), points out that environmental and health concerns exist as well. “There is growing concern for water quality and health. These issues have residents worried about impacts on property values in Ajax/Pickering. Residents want a solution, sooner [rather] than later.”

PACT POW outlined its campaign last week to engage Ajax-Pickering provincial election candidates and voters prior to the June 12 election. All candidates will be asked to sign PACT POW’s “Stop the Algae Pledge,” which calls for a full Environmental Assessment of the Duffin Creek plant and implementation of the best method of halting phosphorous release by 2017.

Ajax Mayor Steve Parish, who has already vocalized his concern to the Ontario government, applauded PACT POW’s efforts. Parish is frustrated that development fees collected by the Regions of York and Durham to fund changes at the plant aren’t being invested in technology to prevent algae growth.

According to recent research by OraclePoll, Ajax residents said they are aware and onboard with the town’s push to rid the waterfront of algae. Ninety-three per cent of respondents indicated that solving the issue was a priority; nearly the same number agreed that development charges should fund algae-elimination technology. A third said they would vote for an MPP candidate who was committed to stopping the release of phosphorous from the Duffin Creek plant.

– Katie Yantzi


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