Public Works and Government Services Canada



Public Works and Government Services Canada

August 30, 2013 17:30 ET

Stronger Than Steel Celebration Pays Tribute to Sydney's Past, Present and Future

SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - Aug. 30, 2013) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Maurice Smith, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal were on hand for Friday night's Stronger Than Steel celebration. Festivities included the signing of a ceremonial land transfer agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia, the ceremonial opening of Open Hearth Park and a screening of the short documentaries "Heart of Steel" and "Are You From the Pier, Dear?"

"Thanks to the leadership of the Harper Government and the Province of Nova Scotia, Sydney has reclaimed nearly 100 hectares of former industrial land and transformed it into a beautiful new park and green space," said Minister Finley. "This has been the most successful contaminated site remediation project in Canada's history and we're proud that it was completed on time and on budget."

"With a focus on jobs and growth, this cleanup project has not only improved the environment, but has also helped build a stronger economy for the people of Cape Breton and Atlantic Canada," said Minister MacKay. "This site remediation has provided local residents with jobs, training and experience, and revitalized the community for current and future generations."

"Open Hearth Park represents a new start for our community and sets the stage for a brighter future," said Maurice Smith, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. "This will be memorable weekend for all of us. Not only are we celebrating the successful remediation of the tar ponds and coke ovens site and all that we have accomplished since the steel and coal industries anchored our community more than 100 years ago, but we have a community-based park that will benefit many generations to come and remind us of just how resilient we are as Cape Bretoners."

For nearly a century, the Sydney steel industry played a key role in shaping Cape Breton's, Nova Scotia's and Canada's economy and culture. Today, with the cleanup of the former tar ponds and coke ovens sites complete, Sydney residents can remember that past, celebrate this accomplishment and look forward to a bright future. The celebration will continue on Saturday and Sunday with activities for the whole family and musical performances from some of Atlantic Canada's top musical acts.

Once the park is fully completed in the coming months, residents and visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy new sports fields, an outdoor stage, a playground area, a dog park, a skating area, walking trails and more.

More information about the community celebration is available on the Stronger Than Steel website. People can also visit the Open Hearth Park Facebook page, and follow the project on Twitter.

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BACKGROUNDER

From the Sydney tar ponds to Open Hearth Park

For more than 100 years, Sydney's steel and coal industries shaped the community's economic, cultural and historical landscape. In many ways, the impacts of the coal and steel industries built and sustained Sydney and Cape Breton. But more than a century of coke and steel making left another legacy for the people of Sydney, a large tract of land (99 hectares) contaminated with the by-products of heavy industrial activity. Prior to their remediation, the tar ponds and coke ovens sites contained over 1 million tonnes of contaminated sediments.

On May 12, 2004, the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia signed a Cost Share Agreement that committed up to $400 million to clean up the tar ponds and coke ovens sites. The cleanup was to take place over a 10-year period, with the federal share of the remediation efforts at up to $280 million, and the provincial share at $120 million.

Using internationally proven technology to solidify and stabilize close to 1 million tonnes of contaminated soils and sediments, the cleanup aspect of the project was completed in December 2012, ensuring a safe environment for residents and visitors to enjoy. The coke ovens site has been capped, and the final touches on the newly named Open Hearth Park are now being completed and the overall project remains on budget and schedule.

In addition to the positive impact the cleanup has had on the local communities from an environmental, visual and social perspective, it has also helped build a stronger economy for the future of Cape Breton by creating sound local economic benefits. Facilitated by ongoing dialogue and engagement, the project successfully enabled Cape Breton's First Nations communities to participate meaningfully in the economic activity generated by the cleanup. The project also resulted in other successful diversity initiatives targeted at the African Nova Scotian community as well as women in the trades and technology fields.

With the successful completion of the largest contaminated site cleanup project in Canadian history, the former tar ponds and coke ovens sites have been transformed into a safe and healthy park area and green space. The new Open Hearth Park will feature new sports fields, an outdoor stage, a playground area, a dog park, a skating area, trails and more for Sydney and the surrounding communities.

The work on the former coke ovens site involves the completion of road infrastructure, which includes paving, lights and sidewalks. The roads have extended Lingan Road and Inverness Street, and connected the neighbourhoods of Whitney Pier and Ashby.

The signing of the ceremonial land transfer agreement represents a new beginning for the people of Sydney and that the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia have met their commitment to restore the land to the a safe and stable condition.

To celebrate the new park, the Stronger Than Steel celebration event has many activities taking place during Labour Day weekend to be enjoyed by all generations of Cape Bretoners and visitors alike. More information about the community celebration is available on the Stronger Than Steel website. Following the celebration event and the final transfer of land to the Province, a 25-year agreement has been signed to monitor and maintain the park area and green space.

Contact Information

  • Amber Irwin
    Office of the Honourable Diane Finley
    819-997-5421

    Media Relations
    Public Works and Government Services Canada
    819-956-2315

    Pam Menchenton
    Communications Advisor
    Nova Scotia Department of Transportation
    and Infrastructure Renewal
    902-424-1750
    menchepm@gov.ns.ca