A dumping debacle
Province intervenes after Town of Clarke’s Beach carries out unauthorized dumping
The Town of Clarke’s Beach has landed itself in some hot water with the provincial government over some recent activity at a small pond near the municipal building.
Council voted 3-2 at a meeting on Sept. 10 to start filling in a portion of the gymnasium-sized pond — known locally as The Glam — in order to make way for a municipal garage.
Crews that were clearing debris from the town’s drainage system in the lead-up to Hurricane Igor began dumping in the pond a few days later.
But officials with the Department of Environment and Conservation, acting on complaints from the area, took quick action to stop the dumping.
It turns out the town did not have the necessary permits.
In a statement sent to The Compass, an official with the department stated the following:
“ The Department of Environment and Conservation received a number of complaints from the public regarding this matter. As such, the site was visited on Wednesday, Sept. 15, and it was confirmed that a permit would be required under Section 48 of the Water Resources Act. The town was advised what needs to be done to comply with the Act. To date, the town has complied with the department’s directions, and we are awaiting the necessary application forms.”
Mayor Betty Moore and deputy mayor Kevin Hussey opposed the motion to start dumping in the pond, which was brought forward by the public works committee.
Councillors Gary Bendell, who chairs the committee, Winston Vokey and Eldon Snow voted in favour.
Councillors David Moore and Roland Andrews were not present at the Sept. 10 meeting.
Bendell declined an interview when contacted Thursday, saying only, “As far as we knew, we owned the body of water there.”
The town continued to dump debris near the pond even after provincial officials ordered a stop to any dumping in the water.
This prompted the department to issue a 48-hour notice to remove all debris from the land. The debris in the water — mostly tree branches and other vegetation — had not been removed as of late last week.
Mayor Moore said the mistake will cost the town some money, but she couldn’t say how much. She also couldn’t say whether the town will be fined.
“I didn’t realize the magnitude of how far-reaching water resources and their regulations are,” Moore stated.
According to the Act, there’s a 15metre buffer around any body of water, and any activity that disturbs the water has to be approved by the government.
Moore said she didn’t realize this, and was taking her direction from the public works committee.
She said it’s been an important learning experience.
“As a council, we understood that because it was on our property, we could fill it in. But I have learned that I will not be taking any information from anyone until I myself have the facts straight,” she said.
Moore said she was opposed to any dumping in the pond because she felt it should be preserved. She noted that it’s long been a site for ice-skating in the winter, and ducks also frequent the pond.
She worries that if the trees are not removed from the pond, the branches that are sticking out of the water could make ice conditions unstable during the winter.
Moore said she has heard from the number of residents who want the pond preserved. She also heard concerns that filling in the pond may result in flooding of nearby properties.
She said council’s next move won’t be discussed until its next meeting, but she’s hopeful that councillors will take a softer line.
The Town of Clarke's Beach was ordered by the provincial government to stop dumping into a small pond near its municipal building earlier this month. The town passed a motion to dump debris in the pond, despite not having approval from the Department of Environment and Conservation.