The city will soon start alerting the public when partially treated sewage spills into Hamilton Harbour so people will know to be wary around the water.
Partially treated sewage seeped into Hamilton Harbour 17 times last year, the city says. The longest period of time was 35 hours — long enough to fill 747 Olympic-size swimming pools.
But until now, there's been no method or requirement to alert the public. With a motion from Coun. Brad Clark of upper Stoney Creek, that will start happening.
City staff will develop a "public notice protocol" for 2020 where council will know about these incidents within two hours of them happening. The public, he said, should know within four hours.
For 2019, the city will aim to have a protocol in place that notifies people within 24 hours.
There were 20 incidents of partially treated sewage flowing into the harbour in 2017. The longest was 53.18 hours, or enough to fill 1,099 Olympic swimming pools.
In 2016, there were 10 incidents. The longest was 12.63 hours, enough to fill 173 swimming pools.
The overflows are most common during inclement weather, such as flooding and heavy rain.
Clark made the motion at a council meeting Wednesday. Here's what else council decided:
- The city approved a new cannabis policy statement that will determine the criteria the city would like to see for future retail cannabis shops. The province determines where the stores go, but the city can comment on applications.
- The city will extend the contracts of Carmen's Group and Spectra/Global Spectrum to manage the city's downtown entertainment facilities. Right now, Carmen's manages the Hamilton Convention Centre. Spectra manages FirstOntario Centre and FirstOntario Concert Hall. The city will also spend as much as $200,000 to investigate the future of the facilities, including whether they should be relocated or clustered together.
- For the next year, the city will try an experiment where anyone with a library card can get into Hamilton public museums for free.
- Council approved the 2019 capital budget, which includes an $18 annual increase on the average household.
- The city will help the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with a 2020 Grey Cup bid, but won't tell the public what it'll cost unless the bid is successful.
- Auchmar Mansion, a city-owned historic property that's long sat vacant, will remain public property. That paves the way for the Gothic mansion to become a new museum.