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Citizens from Westmeath in the Township of Whitewater Region have expressed concern to us about the impact of a snow dump site by the Westmeath Dock area on the ecological health of the Ottawa River. On January 26, 2006, snow had been dumped and piled up along the eastern side of the parking lot area to a height of 2 to 3 metres. The snow appeared to be relatively clean with some evidence of sand. The snow had not been pushed into the Ottawa River and there was a narrow vegetated strip between the snow piles and the river.
In Ontario, there are no available regulations on snow disposal. The only document available to the municipalities is the Guidelines for Snow Disposal and Deicing Operations in Ontario 1975 [pdf file: 0.28mb], providing direction for the establishment of snow disposal sites taking into consideration the environmental and operational constraints. All municipalities from Ottawa, to Toronto, to Westmeath are using these guidelines to protect our rivers.
The township of Whitewater Region agreed that the site is not the best and they are looking at alternative snow disposal options. Ottawa Riverkeeper, MNR, and MoE are in agreement with the proposal of the Municipality to relocate the snow disposal operations to another site for next winter. Continued use of the Westmeath Dock area was requested to MNR for the remainder of this winter on an as needed basis to provide safe public access to the roads and sidewalks in the hamlet of Westmeath.
Meanwhile, the Municipality has assured us that all residual sand and refuse will be removed from the area after the snow has melted. Riverwatchers will follow up in the spring to check to see if they are cleaning up the site in a timely manner. Please visit our site for an update.
MNR, MoE and the Township of Westmeath should be commended for their prompt response to this issue as raised by concerns citizens. Ottawa Riverkeeper is looking forward to working together with the community on our mutual interest in protecting the Ottawa River’s natural qualities.