Media Release (March 7, 2019)

Release of Information Undermines Environmental Appeals Board Independent Report

Assumptions on health impacts only serves to create more confusion and apprehension within the community

(March 7, 2019 – Edmonton, AB) – Cherokee Canada expresses its strong concerns with today’s release of health information which raises the issue of safety of a northeast Edmonton community development. Without describing its methodology, the publication provides unsubstantiated information to community members about potential health risks.  The issue of health risk and the appropriate standards and scientific criteria for remediation of certain chemicals of concern has already been addressed at the Environmental Appeals Board (Board) 12 day hearing last summer and fall where stakeholders had the opportunity to present information to the independent expert tribunal.  The Board heard extensive evidence from several experts.  The Board’s findings and final report were recently provided to the Minister of Environment and Parks.  Cherokee believes that the release of the Board’s independent Report and Recommendations to the Minister will once and for all put forward a proper science based process to complete the remediation of this site to a safe residential standard and put to rest the issue of health risk impact in this community. 

“It is puzzling why Alberta Environment and Park and the Health authorities would pursue this course of action without considering the Board’s input into the appropriate standards which should be applied” says John Dill, Managing Director of Cherokee.  “Raising the specter of health risk without substantiation and erroneously drawing a link to the development site, raises more questions and detracts from the rigorous process undertaken by the Board to review the Department’s actions towards Cherokee.”

“What’s more and as important, the release of this unsubstantiated information appears to undermine a legal process and circumvent the Board’s jurisdiction as an independent expert adjudicator of environmental disputes as conferred by the legislature” says Dill.

Although the information distributed to residents confirms that there is “little risk of exposure” it attempts to draw a line directly to the community development while acknowledging that “many factors” which contribute to health risk “including medical history, certain medication usage and tobacco use.” 

“We are concerned that the Ministry’s approach is a veiled attempt to influence the Minister’s response to the Board’s independent Report and Recommendations or to attempt to discredit the Board’s findings,” said Dill. “It appears that the manner in which this information was presented today also attempts to discredit the reports that Cherokee recently sent to the government, prepared by leading independent experts, which shows that there is no unacceptable risk to the residents or the public in the community if proper scientific criteria is applied”.

Only last week the Compliance Director within the Ministry of Environment and Parks went to Court with an alleged “emergency” application seeking to have Cherokee take immediate action.  The Director was seeking to have the Court rule to remove the “stay orders” which have been in place for 18 months, pending the Board’s Report and Recommendations.  The Judge rejected the Director’s application telling the Ministry to wait until the Minister of Environment and Parks issued her decision.

According to Dill, “The Ministry’s approach is most regrettable, given our long standing, positive reputation of rehabilitating brownfield sites.  This continued misrepresentation of the safety of the community and now the undermining of a judicial process is causing anxiety in the community and harm to local residents and businesses.”

Media Contact Information:

John Dill  (416) 364-3389