Ground contaminated at site of new Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough

Chemicals have been discovered in the ground where the new Canadian Canoe Museum is to be built in Peterborough.

On Thursday morning, the museum announced that an independent investigation discovered an industrial solvent — trichloroethylene (TCE) — in the ground along Hunter Street and Ashburnham Drive where the next 83,400-square foot facility is to be built adjacent to the Peterborough Lift Lock.

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According to museum executive director Carolyn Hyslop, the groundwater at 353 Hunter St. E., owned by Parks Canada, is believed to have been contaminated by chemicals seeping from an adjacent property.

“All of us at the Canoe Museum, our project partners and supporters are highly concerned and extremely disappointed by the situation,” Hyslop said.

2:17 Virtual tour of proposed new Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough

Virtual tour of proposed new Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough

She said the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks this week issued a provincial officers order, under the Environmental Protection Act, to the owner at an adjacent property, directing it to undertake air quality, groundwater and additional onsite investigations and to provide remediation plans.

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“We are working with all parties, including the MECP, Parks Canada and our community and funding partners, to evaluate the overall impacts of these findings to our operations and our new museum build,” Hyslop said.

The new $65-million, 85,000-square-foot facility will replace the 1960s-era building on Monaghan Road in Peterborough. The new museum will boast the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. Many of the 600 watercraft and thousands of small artifacts are currently not on display due to space restrictions.

Ground-breaking was originally scheduled to take place during the 2020 fiscal year.

“While the full implications of this environmental interruption are not yet fully known, we are fully committed to building a new world-class museum that will deliver on its vision and serve the needs of its patrons and local community while honouring and preserving this unique cultural asset of national significance,” Hysop said.

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