City to remove buried drums at Bristol Street Park

Site conditions not expected to pose a health risk – public health and safety, and environmental protection are our top priorities

Guelph, Ont., March 31, 2022 – The City will begin removing buried drums from Bristol Street Park in April 2022. We expect the work to be done and the park to be fully restored by June 2022, weather permitting.

Site history

In 2014, the City was upgrading water infrastructure in the area when buried drums were discovered underground. City staff notified Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and the drums and materials were tested, contained, and removed from the site. Further analysis of the surface soil, air quality and groundwater indicated there was no current risk from the undisturbed drums to residents and the environment. Since then, City staff have been working with specialized remediation professionals to evaluate the site to make sure we could remove the remaining buried drums safely and effectively. We are now returning to the site to complete this work.

City prepared for every scenario

Initial investigations indicate that the undisturbed drums do not currently pose a risk to air and water quality. Jayne Holmes, Guelph’s deputy chief administrative officer of Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services, assures the community that every precaution will be taken to ensure the excavation work is completed safely with minimal impact to residents and the natural environment. “We take our responsibility to protect our residents and the environment very seriously. Air quality will be monitored continuously, and soil samples will be tested regularly during the excavation. Crews will take all necessary precautions to ensure nearby residents are not exposed to any materials or affected soil.”

As each buried drum is removed, the excavated areas will be backfilled with new soil suitable for residential and parkland use. In the event of a leak from a drum, workers will minimize potential exposure by moving any liquid and/or affected soil into sealed containers and removing the material from the site for safe disposal. The City will keep the MECP and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health informed of its progress throughout this project.

Residents, pets and wildlife remain safe

Testing shows that conditions at the site have not affected the water quality in Howitt Creek or the Speed River. Dog owners can continue to bring their pets to the off-leash dog park; that area is about 130 meters from the site and dogs are not at risk. An ecological survey of the site did not identify any concerns for wildlife in the area.

Tree plantings

The City worked with a landscape architect on a design that will enhance the appeal of Bristol Street Park. Some trees and shrubs will be removed or trimmed to safely access the buried drums, however, the Kentucky Coffee trees, an at-risk species in Ontario will be transplanted in the park, and over 100 new trees and shrubs, native to our region, will be planted.

“Guelph’s natural environment, and the tree canopy are always top of mind when I think about sustaining our future,” adds Holmes. “This excavation work will improve the environmental conditions of the park, and the additional native trees and shrubs will make the space even more inviting than before, while providing suitable habitat for wildlife. This is how we make Guelph future ready.”


  • Construction notice
  • Project page
  • Residents with questions or concerns about their health can call Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 extension 4753.

Media Contact

Kyle VanderMeer, Environmental Engineer
Engineering and Transportation Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3892
[email protected]