Some residents in St. Boniface may hold off planting gardens this spring.

University of Manitoba scientist Francis Zvomuya said some homes in the neighbourhood have tested positive for high lead levels in the soil, exceeding the national guideline.

“I don’t know what kind of affect it’s having on us,” said Teresa Cwik, a resident whose property had a result of more than 160 mg/kg from soil taken in 2017. She received a letter in April.

Zvomuya  said his team collected more than 150 samples from yards and letters were sent to homeowners who surpassed the 140 milligrams per kilograms safety threshold, administered by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

"Anything above the guideline, you have to be very careful how you used that," Zvomuya said.

He said residents with gardens should thoroughly wash and peel their vegetables. He noted there are greater risks.

"If you have kids playing in the soil and they ingest that soil, that exposes them to a higher risk than eating the vegetables."

Residents who had test results exceed the threshold are demanding action.

“I’d like to know where it’s coming from,” said Cwik.

Darlene Thurston received a result that was more than 1600 mg/kg, at least ten times higher than the guideline.

"I walk in the soil, I bring it into my house. My neighbours have pets; their pets go into the house.”

On Friday, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said the province hired a consultant to look into the matter and will seek more recommendations.

Zvomuya said he recommends frequent soil changes. He also said raised gardens with at least two feet of soil are another option.