As part of a plan to build a University of Waterloo satellite campus next to its downtown core, the City of Stratford completed a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment and Remedial Action Plan for the Cooper Site, a 7-hectare former industrial site. The research team sampled soil and groundwater to determine the level of contamination at the site-particularly metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). They did a risk assessment for several development scenarios, examining potential off-site impacts and liability. They also explored options for remediation.

The study identified contaminants in the soil and fill materials but showed that the migration of contaminants in groundwater was not as significant as expected, therefore large-scale groundwater remediation was not needed.

To remediate the area proposed for the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, the city processed and re-used the majority of the contaminated material and soil as a railway screening berm elsewhere on the property (a more cost-effective and practical solution than transporting it all to landfill). The University of Waterloo built the first phase of its Stratford Campus on the remediated portion of the land and opened the campus in October 2012.


Environmental Economic Social
  • Contaminated soil removed from Block 1 of the site

  • The majority of contaminated soil re-used as railway screening berm instead of sending to landfill

  • Digital focus of new University of Waterloo campus part of Stratford's economic diversification strategy

  • 8 additional acres set aside for further university expansion

  • Thorough understanding of site contamination, in anticipation of further redevelopment

  • Abandoned brownfield converted into thriving centre of learning

  • New public parking available for downtown businesses and residents

  • Site falls within Stratford's Community Improvement Plan, which aims to upgrade downtown core


  • The original timeline for the study had to be extended because of legal and logistical issues related to materials stored on the site, building conditions and complex environmental factors.
  • Halfway through the study, the province amended Environmental Protection Act regulations relating to the assessment and remediation of brownfield properties, requiring some adaptation.
  • The number of boreholes, monitoring wells, and soil and groundwater samples required were estimated for each step of the project; however the actual amounts and types changed considerably as the investigation progressed and more detailed information came to light.

Lessons learned

  • Communicate results on a regular basis, allowing sufficient time for all parties to review reports.
  • Map out each potential step in the study clearly and remain flexible as results are obtained, because each set of results may determine the next steps required.
  • Inform and consult with the public and stakeholders, and allow sufficient time in the project schedule to address issues of concern (such as heritage issues).
  • Identify and plan for potential deviations from the project scope and schedule (such as regulatory changes, legal issues and technical requirements).


Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Ron Shaw
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)
City of Stratford
Province of Ontario
T. 519-271-0250, ext. 233

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