Hamilton Harbour: Area of Concern

Environment and Climate Change Canada and its partners have implemented many projects and studies to restore water quality and ecosystem health in the Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern (AOC). A major step in the remediation process is the management of contaminated sediment at Randle Reef.

About Hamilton Harbour

Hamilton Harbour was designated as an AOC because a review of available data indicated that water quality and environmental health were severely degraded. The harbour had been subject to the impacts of intensive industrial and urban development around its shores for many years. This has resulted in an impairment of beneficial uses, a reduction in the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes as a result of human activities at the local level.

Historically, the economy of the area surrounding Hamilton Harbour was dominated by the steel and iron industry. Today, the harbour remains a major shipping centre and supports one of the largest concentrations of heavy industry in Canada. It also receives the discharge from three wastewater treatments plants, as well as urban runoff from the cities of Hamilton and Burlington. Some sediment in the harbour are contaminated by metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which were released into the environment by past industrial practices, stretching back over more than a century.


The Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health supports the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. Under this agreement, Canada and Ontario will continue to make significant progress towards remedial action implementation, environmental recovery and restoration of beneficial uses in the Hamilton Harbour AOC.


Projects in Hamilton Harbour are in a partnership between the Government of Canada, other levels of government and non-government groups, including members of the public. 

Undertaking environmental restoration requires a large amount of scientific and technical expertise, local knowledge and hard work. One agency or group cannot engage in such a large task on its own without the help of others.

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