Travelling along the former Kingston Road now known as the Lakeshore Road west from Port Hope, Ontario, you may be surprised at the beautiful scenery you are met with. This narrow in places, quiet, heritage road follows the Lake Ontario shoreline as far as Newcastle. The first landmark you pass through is the first of three ghost towns, Port Britain. See: post, Port Britain, Ontario Ghost town, July 19, 2017. The next landmark you have been seeing for miles away is the giant smokestack of the defunct oil- fired generating station in the ghost town of Westleyville. This village today has only a few empty, boarded up homes, but be sure to stop and admire the old one room school and restored church. Another few miles further will bring you to the topic of this post…the ghost town of Port Granby. This beautiful little town has been a challenge to find a lot of its past history.
In 1841 the Village of Granby’s first inhabitants were Roger and Haldah Bates who were granted six hundred acres of Crown land in Clarke Township (now Clarington) by Lord Simcoe. Around 1848 the thriving village’s name was changed to Port Granby. The little port was by now exporting lumber products and grains. The years 1832 to 1863 were good years for the village, the community evolved to include three grain elevators, a grist mill, sawmill, distillery, a malt house, a school and Methodist church, a hotel and two taverns. A special thanks to the gentleman who pointed out to me that his beautiful home was once a hotel, see picture. By the 1860’s the village population had grown to about sixty inhabitants. With better roads, more competition and a larger harbor in nearby Port Hope, the little hamlet began to decline and by the early 1980’s had almost disappeared.
Since 1954, Port Granby’s history started to change, but not necessarily for the better when Eldorado Nuclear Mining and Refining purchased twenty six acres of land on the east side of Port Granby for use to bury low- level nuclear waste.
A few years ago the federal government undertook the massive Port Granby Project, for the safe, long term management of historic low level radioactive waste situated at the south-eastern boundary of the Municipality of Clarington. The existing waste management site located on sandy soil too close to Lake Ontario will be relocated almost a mile north. The project will relocate approximately 450,000 cubic meters of historic low-level radioactive waste and marginally contaminated soils, to the new, engineered above ground mound north of the current site. Note: The Port Granby Project is not to be confused with the Port Hope Project. The latter is Port Hope and the Federal Government’s plan to deal with the Municipality’s waste.
The waste resulted from the former radium and uranium refining operations of Eldorado Nuclear in Port Hope (Cameco) and was deposited at the Port Granby site beginning in 1955 until the facility was closed in 1988. The project calls for the construction of an engineered above ground, lined mound to separate the waste from the environment and a dedicated water treatment plant to treat wastes. Only historic waste currently located in Clarington will be managed at the Port Granby long-term waste management facility. The concept calls for an aboveground mound shaped to resemble the natural landform and will be oriented to mimic drumlins in the area, has been incorporated into the design for the mound. After the waste is removed from the existing site, the site will be restored and returned to a natural state.
Only 95 hectares of the 270 hectares owned by the federal government are under Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission license for the Port Granby Project. The remaining 175 hectares of federally owned lands are considered surplus. To date, the federal government has not provided a clear indication of what will happen with the surplus lands in the future, other than the potential disposal after the project is complete.
The Port Granby Nature Reserve Proposal is a collaborative vision and strategy by the Municipality of Clarington, Municipality of Port Hope, Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the community. It is a proposal to the Government of Canada to transfer ownership of federally owned lands surplus to the Port Granby Project to local agencies for ecological restoration and preservation.
The Port Granby Nature Reserve Objectives: To protect and restore the natural heritage of the subject lands, to raise awareness of their important ecological and environmental functions, and to provide low environmental impact educational, research and passive recreational opportunities to present and future generations.
Proposed Ownership & Governance: The Municipalities of Clarington and Port Hope would lease/own the surplus lands in their respective boundaries. The Ganaraska Conservation Authority would be the lead agency for the planning and management of the nature reserve lands, implemented through a partnership agreement and government structure. A Stewardship plan for the nature reserve has been created. Some key opportunities and benefits would include:
-Creating a lasting legacy from the Port Granby Project.
-Restoring and enhancing native ecosystems, wildlife and linkages.
-Enhancing a Waterfront Trail and passive recreation opportunities.
-Taking action on climate change mitigation.
-Controlling and eradicating invasive species and
-Providing an opportunity for environmental education and research.
Note: Low-level radioactive waste information – Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI).