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UPDATED: Reports of styrofoam 'raining down' from construction site prompts investigation

Residents reported bits of foam blew into a nearby river, pond and playground; Town of Collingwood staff did a cleanup and are watching the site

This article has been updated to include a response from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. 

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The town, province and conservation authority are looking into reports of small bits of styrofoam flying from a construction site in Collingwood to nearby rivers, parks and ponds. 

Early during the week of April 19, Collingwood resident Joanna Horning noticed small styrofoam balls raining down on the Pretty River Trail and originating from a mid-rise apartment building under construction at Peel and Collins streets. 

She said they accumulated along the edge of the Pretty River, and she could see them falling while her kids played at a park. 

“The kids were playing and they would be flicking bits of styrofoam off their faces,” said Horning. 

The accumulation in a stormwater management pond in the area and in Pretty River had Horning and several others taking to social media to raise the issue. 

“This is an assault on our environment,” said Horning. 

Dunncap is behind the construction project, called Riverside, and said they use building materials and methods that are “used industry-wide.” 

In a statement emailed to CollingwoodToday, Dunncap said the site and materials are regulated by the province and the town’s zoning bylaw. 

“Our long-term success is based on working with these regulatory agencies to meet or exceed their requirements on any issues that may arise,” read the statement. 

Questions to clarify what material is being used and what clean up would occur were not returned. 

The Town of Collingwood has confirmed they are working with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, as several residents have placed calls of concern. 

On Friday, April 30, the town emailed a statement to CollingwoodToday from Peggy Slama, director of engineering, public works, and environmental services, to report the town completed cleanup operations “in the interest of containing the situation and protecting our environment.” 

According to the statement, the town will “make all efforts to make sure that the costs are borne by the developer.” 

The town is continuing to monitor the site. 

“The town is taking this concern seriously and continues to rely on the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks as the province’s environmental protection agency,” read Slama’s statement. 

The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) confirmed the matter was also passed on to their enforcement staff. 

The conservation authority declined to comment on an active investigation, but said they will coordinate their response with the town and other applicable agencies. 

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has confirmed they are aware of litter (styrofoam) blowing from a construction site and into a stormwater management pond. 

"Ministry staff spoke with the developer and staff from the Town of Collingwood to ensure they are addressing the litter complaints," stated ministry spokesperson Lindsay Davidson in an email. 

According to the email from the ministry, construction sites are regulated by the municipality through site plan approvals and building permits. 

"The developer must ensure things such as litter, dust, and noise generated at the construction site do not impact off-site properties," read the statement. "Our role is to ensure that the responsible parties take appropriate action to mitigate any environmental impacts." 


Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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