Canadian Consulting Engineer

2021 #CCEawards Showcase: West Niagara Secondary School and New Ridgeview Garden Centre

November 17, 2021

“The project worked within a tight timeline to provide a community-centric building, while dealing with complex challenges in a highly visible area.” – Jury

Project site

Photos courtesy WSP.

Category: Environmental Remediation

Award of Excellence Winner: WSP

In 2017, the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) purchased half of the family-owned and operated Ridgeview Garden Centre’s land to build a new secondary school.

The property was formerly a shale quarry and brickworks, dating back to 1875. When the brickworks was demolished, its remnants were buried on-site. Subsequently, the shale quarry was illegally infilled with approximately 140,000 m3 of construction and demolition (C&D) waste. This left the land burdened with poor soil quality, most of which was geotechnically unsuitable for future use of the site.

DSBN retained WSP to complete an updated Phase One and Two Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), including the filing of a Record of Site Condition (RSC). The results of the ESAs showed a complex, contaminated site with multiple challenges.

WSP then provided remediation options, including removal of waste to licensed landfill, diversion of impacted soil to a reuse site and sequestration and risk management of impacted soil beneath the site—all while keeping Ridgeview open and operating throughout the remedial efforts.

A complex site

Estimates based on historical documentation suggested the site housed 73,000 tonnes of C&D waste. On the east side of the quarry, however, unanticipated ribbons of waste were discovered, leading to a secondary, deep area of waste. The final volume of C&D waste was approximately 170% of the original estimate.

The soil originally used to cap the waste was also impacted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) had previously documented the cap material to be environmentally non-impacted, having been sourced on-site from outside the former quarry area. This added an unexpected 73,000 m3 of soil requiring risk management.

Rather than landfilling the cap material and the existing quarry fill that was determined not to be suitable on-site, an off-site receiving facility accepted and reused approximately 100,000 m3 of the soil. While additional effort was needed in soil characterization, processing and tracking, this was a sustainable solution that diverted soil from landfills.


Excavation work took place next to the open Ridgeway Garden Centre.

There were 2,000 tonnes of slag present on-site, mixed with about 10,000 tonnes of soil and concrete. This stockpile was screened and crushed appropriately for reuse. Fine-grained particles from the stockpile were screened out and treated as contaminated soil and managed accordingly, while larger slag and crushed concrete were used as a prescribed aggregate base for a new coverall building behind the new Ridgeview Garden Centre.

Dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE) was found in shallow soil in a former orchard area, where alternative options needed to be explored to satisfy environmental and geotechnical requirements for a future sports field. Since an orchard can be classified as agricultural land use, it was surveyed separately from the school and Ridgeview.

New buildings

The new, centrally located, 60-classroom West Niagara Secondary School (WNSS) will accommodate more than 1,500 students from the towns of Grimsby, Beamsville and Smithville, Ont. It will combine specialized programs from two current facilities: Beamsville District Secondary School and Grimsby Secondary School. Its 8-hectare lot will provide enough space for the athletic field, a running track and parking. WNSS is scheduled to open in September 2022.

The revitalized Ridgeview Garden Centre, meanwhile, will reopen in a new location, having shifted only a few hundred metres along King Street, to maintain ease of access for its patrons.

Site surroundings

The site is surrounded by commercial farm and residential land.

Environmental benefits

In redeveloping this former industrial site, DSBN has reduced urban sprawl (i.e. building a new school in a more central location), resolved a longstanding MECP order (i.e. to remove waste from the site to licensed landfill), sequestered 205,000 m3 of impacted soil under the new Ridgeview Garden Centre, reused 100,000 m3 of impacted soil offsite for subgrade application, appropriately managed 16,000 m3 of orchard soil in-place, reused 2,000 m3 of slag and crushed concrete on-site as aggregate and allowed a stream on the east side of the property to return to more natural function.

This motivated proponent has worked with Ontario’s Ministry of Education, Ridgeview Garden Centre and the MECP District Officer to enable the site’s redevelopment to move forward successfully in a tight timeline, significantly enhancing the use of the land. A strong partnership between the stakeholders and WSP maintained the project schedule, overcame challenges along the way and achieved a positive outcome.

Further, as a multidisciplinary consulting firm, WSP was also able to accommodate additional client requests with respect to assessments of noise, vibration, air quality and land use compatibility for the WNSS.


West Niagara Secondary School and New Ridgeview Garden Centre, St. Catharines, Ont.

Award-winning firm (environmental engineers for site remediation): WSP, Hamilton, Ont. (Karen Bailey, B.A.Sc.; Amy Chiang, P.Eng., PMP; Grace Coveney; Anya Krywy-Janzen, G.I.T., M.Sc.; Sean Morris, C.Tech.; Najla Nureddin, BES; Bailey Walters, M.Sc., P.Geo.; Freesia Waxman, P.Eng.).

Owner: District School Board of Niagara.

Other key players: Budget Demolition (remediation and hauling contractor), Ridgeview Garden Centre (tenant, neighbour and reuse site), Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (compliance), Town of Lincoln (community partner), Town of Grimsby (community partner).






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