Ontario hands down $266K in fines for stormwater infrastructure failure that polluted Thames River

Thames River
The ministry says that a major rainstorm contributed to a second, larger release of sediment into the Thames River, which was again linked to the Ontario construction site. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Ken Lund

An Ontario real estate development company, its president, a consulting firm, and its general manager, have been fined a total of $266,000 in relation to inadequate stormwater infrastructure that contributed to sediment discharge from a construction site into the Thames River and its floodplain in 2018. 

According to the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the construction site failed to implement adequate erosion and sediment control measures for the construction site’s stormwater management facility. 

Ten charges were laid for multiple violations under the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act, and the Endangered Species Act. 

South Winds Development Co. Inc., a real estate development company that develops building lots in Edgewater Estates in the Municipality of Middlesex Centre, contracted LDS Consultants Inc. for the project. LDS was the consulting engineer for the design and approval of all site engineering, including design and supervision of construction and implementation of erosion control measures on the construction site.  

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A provincial court bulletin out of London, Ontario, states that on July 18, 2018, a resident visiting Komoka Provincial Park “observed an active discharge of sediment into the Thames River.” The visitor reported the incident to the park manager, who in turn reported it to the ministry. 

Five days later, a ministry enforcement visit determined that the South Winds construction site was the source of the discharge.  

The following day, the ministry says that a major rainstorm contributed to a second, larger release of sediment into the Thames River, which was again linked to the construction site.

While the summer storm was determined to be “severe and unusually high”, the ministry said its investigation also found that the construction site’s stormwater management, erosion and sediment control measures to be “grossly unreasonable and inadequate for a rain event of this magnitude.” 

The ministry noted that the discharges had a detrimental impact on aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, particularly affecting the quality of the habitat for the Spiny Softshell Turtle and the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, two species designated under the Endangered Species Act. 

Executive Director of LDS, Anthony Gubbels, as well as South Winds Development President, William Graham, were fined in relation to the discharges.  

The majority of the fines were handed down to South Winds Development Co. Inc. The company was fined $115,000, as well as a victim surcharge of $28,750. It was also handed a court order under the Endangered Species Act to pay $50,000 to the Upper Thames Conservation Authority. 

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