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.

Pho­tos by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

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