Manager 'excited' about McCormick site cleanup

Cleaning up the old McCormick-Beta Brands candy plant site has begun.

Finally, after four years of new ownership, the soil on the site is being removed for cleaning and a massive, 25,000-gallon buried oil tank on site will be removed.

“We are pretty excited about this project,” said Jared Rundle Drake, project manager for Sierra Construction of Woodstock, which owns the former plant.

“The scale of the site, just walking through the building, the architecture, it was really a feat of its own back in those days.”

Drake also feels a personal connection to the site at 1156 Dundas St. His grandmother worked at McCormick for 30 years and his mother spent a summer there.

“It’s one of the reasons I wanted to work on this,” he added.

The cleanup of the site will total about $8 million and the city is pitching in $2.5 million to help with the cleanup. In addition, the demolition and reconstruction of the original building will cost about $6 million.

“We have now begun removing the underground storage tank, it is part of our soil remediation process,” said Drake.

McCormick’s factory timeline

  • 1156 Dundas St. plant sits on property bounded by Dundas Street, McCormick Boulevard, and Ashland Avenue.
  • Built in 1913, run as candy and cookie factory by various companies until it closed in 2008.
  • City seized 5.3-hectare site after nearly $750,000 in taxes wasn’t paid, and sold it in 2014 to Sierra Construction for $1.

“We are developing the site to bring it back to prestigious conditions for the neighbourhood.”

The site has to be cleaned before construction can start. The underground oil tank stored fuel for the boilers and luckily was in “very good” condition, he added.

It may take about three months until the soil is tested and remediated.

Testing has revealed hazardous materials such as hydrocarbon compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and asbestos on the site.

Sierra’s plan for the site is to maintain the existing building that housed McCormick and tear down some additions to the rear before the end of the year. The building will be converted into residential and commercial space, with additional residential – including affordable and retirement spaces – built at the rear of the site.

“It is a lengthy process. It’s a very old property,” said Drake.

Coun. Jesse Helmer, who represents the east London neighbourhood, is happy that work has finally begun.

“It really is good to see the project underway. I know people in the area have wanted to see McCormick redeveloped for some time,” said Helmer.

“It really is important for the area. I hope things get rolling really fast.”

The site will also be a stop on the bus rapid transit line, added Helmer.

“There is a lot of redevelopment now in Old East Village, with McCormick and Kellogg,” he added. “Sierras has a good track record.”

As for the former Kellogg plant, it is being converted into a huge indoor adventure park called The Factory, part of a redevelopment which will see the old cereal giant converted to a variety of uses, including office, warehouse, light industrial, recreation and retail.

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