Special Report: By-Law Crawl

Unguarded Waste on Wentworth Street North

We found a new unguarded stash of possibly hazardous chemicals lying out in the open behind 350 Wentworth Street North. How has this gone unnoticed?

By Matt Jelly
Published July 26, 2010

Photos by Reg Moore

We found a new unguarded stash of possibly hazardous chemicals just a bit more than a football field away from homes, behind this building, at 350 Wentworth Street North.

350 Wentworth St. S.
350 Wentworth St. S.

My photographer Reg and I were able to enter the site easily. An out-of-use rail line leads directly to the site, as you can see from the satellite view below.

Easy site entry
Easy site entry

On Google Streetview you can see the entrance from the street to the pre-existing rail tracks.

We walked approximately 100 yards from Wentworth Street along the abandoned rail line, came to the clearing, and there was no fence- we walked onto the site altogether unobstructed.

From this view, you can see another way into the site. The spot where we emerged from the rail line is visible from the street here:

Visible from street
Visible from street

Reg grew up just blocks from this site, less than 1,000 metres away. This is what we found.

This is where we entered the site from the abandoned rail line. No fence.





This property belongs to 1125906 ONTARIO LIMITED. They bought it in Febraury 2008 for $800,000.

Paint thinner
Paint thinner

Creosote oil
Creosote oil

Creosote oil
Creosote oil

Creosote oil
Creosote oil

This is all right next door to the City of Hamilton Operations Centre.

Next Door: City of Hamilton Operations Centre
Next Door: City of Hamilton Operations Centre

The site is accessible from two directions, completely unprotected.

Accessible from two unprotected directions
Accessible from two unprotected directions

How did this go unnoticed? What's in these barrels? Are the barrels empty or full? If they're full, is this a proper way to store chemicals? How long have they been there? Why do we only have a number for a name of the owner of this site?

How many Mayors have been in office while this has been happening?

I can name at least two.

A very corrosive argument indeed.

this article was first published on Matt Jelly's personal website

Jelly is a local artist, graphic designer and map maker living in Downtown Hamilton, Ontario in the Central Neighbourhood. Matt is an advocate for built heritage, toxic waste eradication and the revitalization of downtown Hamilton. www.mattjelly.com

44 Comments

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 09:07:37

Ooooo! Free paint thinner!

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-07-26 08:08:05

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 09:38:49

If one guy walking around the downtown area can find all this stuff in such a short timespan, just imagine how much more of it there actually is around!

It would seem that industries have been using Hamilton's core as a convenient hiding place for toxic waste for decades.

And why not, when it seems that the City is devoting its future to stadiums and expressways on the periphrery. Your leaders don't care what goes on right in front of their own noses.

During this time, the core has seen little but wilful neglect and the occasional cosmetic gloss-over. It's a crying shame.

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By robert_carley (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 09:53:37

Right in my back yard. Guess who I won't be voting for? Wake up boys this is one you can't sweep under the carpet. The games up.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:10:34

The Ministry of the Environment's hotline is 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Matt since you and Reg found the material it is probably best for you to report the presence of the materials, but if you don't for any reason just say so here and I will file a report.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:18:40

This was reported to the MOE at dawn, rest assured.

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By NoSugarAdded (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 11:18:32

This was and I thought still is a creosote factory. It has been there for at least 20 years. It was originally on Mulberry Street west of Bay at Caroline Street where Central Park is and behind the Fire & EMS Maintanance shop is. There have been fires here over the years involving creosote inside and outside. It was originally called “Currie Products” and it changed it’s name after moving to Wehtworth Street North. The GH on the building stands for “Gary Hart Industries”

After digging a little more I found these items:

"Protective Barriers Inc. is 100% Canadian owned company. Our head office and Manufacturing Plant is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, close to all major transportation routes.

Protective Barriers Inc. purchased the assets of Currie Products, formerly Hamilton Tar Products, a company established in 1921 and considered a leader in the manufacturing of construction and roofing products. A company that was instrumental in setting the guidelines for MTO Specifications, Government of Canada Armed Forces Specifications and General Industry Specifications. We have recently restructured operations and our manufacturing facilities to be more efficient in today's market."

There web site:

http://www.protectivebarriers.net/

PROTECTIVE BARRIERS INC. 6254 Skyway Rd. Smithville, Ontario, L0R 2A0 Phone: (905) 527-3458 Fax: (905) 527-0606 or by email: info@protectivebarriers.net

I found this from the minutes of the Corporate Administration Committee Wednesday, September 7, 2005

  1. Payment Proposal – 350 Wentworth Street North (FCS05094) (City Wide, Ward 3) (Item 8.3)

(a) That the Treasurer accepts a tax payment settlement of $600,000 for the Brownfield Property known as 350 Wentworth Street North from Protective Barriers Incorporated (PBI), $300,000 immediately and $300,000 as a long- term receivable over 5 years at 5% interest;

(b) That the Treasurer be authorized to write-off $472,278.21 in penalties and interest, in return for PBI agreeing to spend at least the same amount in site remediation, over the next 5 years;

(c) That PBI pay all 2005 taxes immediately ($41,872.23) and all future current taxes as they become due;

(d) That Appendix “F” to FCS05094, “Results from Brownfield Initiatives”, be received for information.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 11:56:01

Great work Matt!!! Keep going, you are doing a tremendous service for this community.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:21:01

I called Protective Barriers on my lunch break. They claim not to own the building at 350 Wentworth St. North. If that claim is true, perhaps they should take the picture of it off their website.

They wouldn't say who owns the building, BTW. Is there a way to look up information on numbered companies?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:42:02

How did this go unnoticed?

Quite easily. Hamilton's lower city has virtually been ignored (unless someone wants to open a new waste disposal plant) for the past number of years. It's easy for things to go unnoticed when nobody cares enough to take a look.

Keep up the great work Matt. It is VERY appreciated by all of us.

If one guy walking around the downtown area can find all this stuff in such a short timespan, just imagine how much more of it there actually is around!

It would seem that industries have been using Hamilton's core as a convenient hiding place for toxic waste for decades.

It's too bad we don't have a special FUND set aside in the city dedicated to cleaning up sites like this and revitalizing them with legacy projects for the FUTURE.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-07-26 11:43:09

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 13:39:21

I called Protective Barriers on my lunch break. They claim not to own the building at 350 Wentworth St. North. - John Neary

Hmmm??? That's dubious, but also somewhat irrelevant.

Considering they are (this is from their own website):

Specializing in Construction & Restoration products (including paint strippers, coal tar, creosote and steel primer) and Rustproofing products.

It is pretty clear who's material is in those drums and who left it there.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 13:51:56

I called Protective Barriers on my lunch break.

+1 for crowdsourced journalism!

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 14:26:34

Excellent work Matt.

The fact that this site sits next to a City of Hamilton yard that is used daily is appalling. It seems our City employees are as blind to toxic waste as they are to designated heritage buildings tumbling to the ground, and as they are to obvious by-law infringements - ALL of which Matt Jelly has been able to see. Remarkable. Matt, I suggest we get somebody to put a motion before Council to pay you for the work you have done to protect this city!

Perhaps we could deduct the amount from the salaries of the General Managers and the City Manager? I'm sure they'd all be willing to chip in to help out a guy who just keeps his eyes open as he walks around town. A skill they seem to lack.

Keep up the remarkable service.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 15:05:42

a guy who just keeps his eyes open as he walks around town.

Incidentally, that is precisely how Jane Jacobs operated as well.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 15:16:46

"It seems our City employees are as blind to toxic waste as they are to designated heritage buildings tumbling to the ground, and as they are to obvious by-law infringements - ALL of which Matt Jelly has been able to see."

Slightly off topic, but I heard a rumour that the building beside the Lister Block is coming down. Is that true??? I have not seen this reported anywhere.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 17:27:18

"Hamilton's lower city has virtually been ignored (unless someone wants to open a new waste disposal plant) for the past number of years. It's easy for things to go unnoticed when nobody cares enough to take a look."

Exactly. This is how the downtown has been left to flounder.

'Use it...or lose it.'

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By kourt (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 19:17:03

A well deserved pat on the back to you Matt! What you're uncovering should put our city leaders to shame...I suspect this has a few folks sweating. Keep it up...awesome work.

By the way...when is the next bi-law crawl?

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 20:22:23

Matt, its' amazing that you can visit some site on a weekend, take pictures, then have a story on the Monday evening news, two weeks in a row! This almost seems like something from a comic book or Scooby-Doo episode. The crumbling heritage buildings were enough to get noticed by city hall, but this is so sensational that it's getting as much attention as could be hoped. You have struck a chord, from which the momentum could bring some real change. I wonder who will emerge as your adversaries? Or has Bratina already hired the Scorpion to track you down? Look out!

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By NoSugarAdded (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 21:49:31

Don’t be so hard on the city workers. I have, over the years, been to the city building next door for business several times a year and it has always looked that way at 350 Wentworth. There has always been product stored all over the place. It looks normal for that location and many other locations in the city. If it is out of business, it is news to me. I could not tell the difference and I had no desire to go snooping around.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 21:57:39

This almost seems like something from a comic book or Scooby-Doo episode.

"And we would have got away with it, too, if it weren't for that meddling musician and his blasted blog."

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 22:22:44

"There has always been product stored all over the place."

Whether or not it's there is somewhat irrelevant. The problem is the fact that it's improperly stored and if I'm not mistaken it's also illegal to have a property like that open i.e. no fencing.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 00:30:44

Don’t be so hard on the city workers. I have, over the years, been to the city building next door for business several times a year and it has always looked that way at 350 Wentworth.

Yes, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 27, 2010 at 06:24:29

Yes, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Now don't you go all Panglossian on us.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:02:01

^...and this is why I keep coming back to RTH.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 27, 2010 at 12:01:07

From the new Spec article on the subject:

http://thespec.com/News/Local/article/81...

"It's unclear if the inspectors enter the property during their visits."

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-07-27 11:21:44

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 12:28:22

..And I was shoked when heard from local guy "Hamilton is to dump". When I asked then, is it really so bad. He said "you have no idea".

While we, newcommers fell in love with the heritage of downtown, locals know something...

Matt, Reg, and all people who care here, you inspire !
May we'll have a clean air and waterfront at least for the kids living there.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 27, 2010 at 14:01:16

I just saw the city order, dated a few days ago, at the Queen/Barton site, taped to the north wall.

'Bout flippin' time. Those barrels have been visible from the street for most of the last decade.

Way to go Jelly. Totally my hero.

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By Tipster (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 21:54:28

I called the Hamilton Spectator after the last story ran, with the information about this site. They clearly passed it on to Matt, why I’m not sure, perhaps they didn’t believe it and couldn’t be bothered to check it out themselves. Perhaps Matt has a relationship with the Spec staff, who knows.

Regardless, to make out that Matt sleuthed out the site is disingenuous. He was given good information by a member of the public who couldn’t believe the big deal that was being made of the first site, when a far worse site existed only a few blocks away. That is the reason there was a second follow up story shortly after the first.

Good job on the story Matt, but don’t make out that you found the place. You followed clear and precise directions to the barrels. You could have admitted it. I’ll be more careful about who I pass information along to next time.

Tipster

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By Dave Miller (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 22:06:05

Hey Tipster, my condolences. Sorry the Spec didnt jump all over the chance to film you saying "Hi Mom" on the evening news.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 03:44:42

Good Stuff, Matt J.!

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 12:53:39

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 15:02:26

Tipster, I'm having a bit of a hard time understanding what you're saying. Can you clarify this for me? I've been in contact with my anonymous tipster for the second site, and that's the only person who passed on info to me about this. Make no mistake- I've had the help of anonymous tips on this stuff, absolutely. I didn't do this alone.

I'd be glad to address any concerns you might have.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 19:05:35

win jelly

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By Tipster (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 20:00:06

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By JimmyS (registered) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 21:53:45

Who cares if someone gave a tip?? Matt Jelly is the one who dragged his butt down there and had a photographer snap pics and report his findings on the news and made a presentation at the future fund meeting etc. Let's celebrate some awesome work done by a caring Hamiltonian.

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By blah (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 07:14:42

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By PseudonymousCoward (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 07:24:06

Yeah, we should just shut up and trust the professionals, they're doing such a great job as it is. :P

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By skully2001 (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 07:44:29

Just read that $1 million worth of pot plants was also found inside the building?

http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/articl...

Wow - toxic barrels outside and illegal drugs inside - well done Matt!!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2010 at 07:58:54

It saddens me that we have the authority to barge into a property to find a suspected grow operation, but apparently don't have the authority to barge into a property to find suspected toxic waste.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2010 at 09:55:30

Yup. Apparently, you're not free to do toxic things for your own body for fun and relaxation, but you are free to do toxic things to the bodies of your neighbours for profit. Yay capitalism!

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2010 at 12:11:33

Tipster- the person who tipped me off to this stuff requested to remain anonymous. In every interview I've done with the media, I've brought up that it was an anonymous tip forwarded to me- they didn't end up reflecting that in the pieces, but I've been clear about that from the start.

There is a serious concern of protecting my source- I spoke with the original tipster last night, and considering recent events, he/she still prefers to stay anonymous. I don't know who you are (another anonymous commenter), but I don't believe I received any information from you about this site- I got one tip and one tip alone.

Hopefully that answers your question.

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By Canyoneer (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2010 at 10:55:09

Tip or no tip, Matt J actually did something. Without his story, photos and however many connections with the Spectator, I am relatively convinced that this matter would have remained ignored for years to come. So cutos to you Matt! The grow op find was icing on the cake and should be seen as an eye opener as other such sites likely exist.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2010 at 13:06:22

One thing I think has been particularly overlooked is that the site on Wentworth North is the next door neighbour to the City of Hamilton's Operations Centre. Literally right next door. You know- where they have the call centre, where you call to report hazardous waste. Fucked, eh?

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By Canyoneer (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 09:10:22

Thats messed up. I've been inside that building once and for some reason I only thought it was a service centre for city vehicles. What is also pretty fucked is the number of environmental disposal contractors in hamilton who don't even recycle.

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By Dark Thunder (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2013 at 09:46:05

Its good to see some old-time waste dumping is still occuring. Someone needs to counter the delusional collective trying to "save the world"

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