If some Toronto parks smell gross, blame the Pan Am Games

If some Toronto parks smell gross, blame the Pan Am Games

Downtown as viewed from Riverdale Park (Image: Susan Drysdale) 

Some of Toronto’s favourite parks, such as Riverdale and Centennial, are built on former landfills. This isn’t normally a problem, because a) these landfills are generally very old and stable by now, and b) any problem of leaking methane gas or leaching fluids is monitored to the tune of $6 million per year. Well, normally, anyway—thanks to the Pan Am Games, the $23-million fund put aside to monitor the old landfills is now being used to clean up the building site for an aquatic centre in Scarborough.

The Toronto Star sounds the alarm:

The change means city council will have to make annual contributions from the operating budget in future.

“The fact there’s no money in the bank to continue this monitoring raises the question, ‘What are the health implications?’” said Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Even a dyed-in-the-organic-wool lefty like Gord Perks says there’s not much to worry about, especially in the oldest parks, where decomposition and time have settled out anything that might leak. Monitoring these former landfills will now be paid for on a yearly basis, instead of out of a prepaid fund.

And if the city fails to pay for this sometime in the future, we suppose the monitoring will be done by the most eagle-eyed (or beagle-nosed) watchers: people walking their dogs, who suddenly pass through a fog of methane or sulphur. Can we expect a boom industry in designer nose plugs for the chic dog owner? Stay tuned.

• Does your park leak methane? [Toronto Star]