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2013 Brownfields Projects

City of Kingston, Ontario

Belle Park Specialty Tree Planting and Associated Landscaping Project

Population: 124,000
Project duration: 2007‒ongoing
Total project value: $365,000

The City of Kingston planted hybrid poplars in the former landfill site of Belle Park to reduce leachate seepage into the river.

Belle Park is a 44-hectare, multi-use recreational space. The city uses pumps and extraction wells to capture leachate where it visibly flows into the river. The city planted 12,500 hybrid poplar trees and over 16,000 live stakes, bareroot seedlings and potted shrubs to capture leachate from a wider area and reach hidden leachate in groundwater. The water-loving poplars pull in large volumes of groundwater and lock away many of the contaminants.

This innovative and natural approach has proven to be the most cost-effective way of capturing the greatest amount of leachate. Less leachate is now making its way into the river, and in the long term, the trees will reduce the city's reliance on the pump and treat systems.





  • Reduced leachate seepage into the river
  • Reduced GHG emissions through less use of leachate collection pumps
  • Improved air quality from tree growth
  • Most cost-effective way to capture the most leachate naturally
  • Fewer new pump and treatment systems and reduced use of current systems
  • Site perimeter transformed from open grass to treed area
  • New pathways are used by walkers and for maintenance
  • Trees screen walkers along golf course perimeter


  • The trees needed extra care in the former landfill environment. Traditional irrigation levels could not be used because of leachate seepage.
  • Planting so many trees while the park was open meant educating users about special consideration in the planting areas.
  • The trees needed protection from weeds and wildlife, as well as labour-intensive care to avoid using pesticides and herbicides in the first couple of years.

Lessons learned

  • Plant trees early in the rainy season, before the summer heat, to encourage growth in a harsh former landfill environment.
  • Select ornamental plants that will thrive alongside the trees, and select tree varieties that are disease-resistant.
  • Implement measures early in the process for more cost-effective control of weeds and wildlife.
  • Recruit community volunteers to help with ground preparation and planting.

Partners and collaboration


Page Updated: 27/04/2018