Long considered a blight on Nova Scotia's shoreline, the area once known as the Sydney tar ponds may soon be able to bury its toxic reputation

A multi-million dollar cleanup of the space, where hazardous runoff from a nearby steel plant once pooled and festered, is in its final stages.

Attention has now turned to transforming the industrial wasteland into a space that Sydney residents will embrace, rather than shun.

Landscape architect Gary Sorge envisions the reformed tar ponds as a miniature version of New York's Central Park, a green space woven into the heart of the city.

His firm Stantec has presented city residents with conceptual drawings of what they believe the site could be: a 250-acre park with sports fields and cycling trails.

"People who haven't seen the tar ponds in 20 years will not recognize this site," said Sorge.

Twenty-million dollars of the tar ponds remediation budget has been allotted to a makeover, one that city planners intend to be permanent.

The former tar ponds will be forever off-limits to any commercial development involving digging, a provision meant to prevent the toxic soil below from being disturbed.

Construction crews have literally buried the hazardous mess that was once the Sydney Tar Ponds. The toxic site has been capped and sealed below the land's surface.

Retired steelworker Dave Ervin sees the burial as a chance for Sydney to break free from its industrial past, one marked by factory buildings and orange smoke billowing from the old steel plant.

"Sydney is going to have a beautiful green space in the middle of the city," he said.

"Not many communities get that option because…the site's been occupied for the last 110 years."

With a report from CTV Halifax's Randy MacDonald