Wapisiw Lookout is the first reclaimed tailings pond in the oil sands region of northeastern Alberta (Canada). Used to store tailings from 1967 to 2008, it now provides wildlife habitat to an abundance of species. Under the supervision of Gord McKenna, a team of designers (BGC Engineering) designed the project and worked closely with Suncor Energy operations and technical staff, expert contractors, and other consultants to reclaim the 220-hectare site. The opening celebration made national news.
As the member of the Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management responsible for reclamation and landform design, Gord McKenna helped develop a sustainable solution to dealing with selenium released from Teck Coal's mines in southeastern BC and northwestern Alberta. The 2010 plan addresses legacy waste dumps, operating procedures at active mines, alternative mine and waste management practices at proposed expansions, and the company's engagements with a community-based watershed-health advocacy group. The joint decision-making regarding selenium management goals, technologies, and schedules by the mine, local First Nations, provincial regulators, and local community groups is a breakthrough in mine waste management. The Final Report of the Panel is available here.
Gord McKenna served as a lead author of the latest and greatly expanded edition of Guidelines for Wetlands Establishment on Reclaimed Oil Sands Leases, which was endorsed by the Alberta government in 2014 as a reclamation planning tool for the oil sands industry. He co-wrote chapters on the history of wetland reclamation, mine closure plans, and wetland design, construction and operation, and supplied editorial guidance for the overall project. The manual is available online here.