Closer to taking action
Deer Lake hopes to soon provide details on Humber River bank erosion mitigation plan
The Town of Deer Lake is hoping to soon announce its plans to rectify the erosion issues facing its riverbanks.
The banks along both Pine Tree Drive and Riverbank Road began to be eaten away in the aftermath of a heavy rainstorm that struck the area in midJanuary.
The residents of five homes on Pine Tree Drive were encouraged to evacuate as the banks gave way near their homes, although none ever did leave. The faltering bank is also threatening the road itself and the municipal infrastructure beneath it.
On Riverbank Road, the disappearing sandy bank has caused the road to drop in places and traffic has been restricted to one direction only.
Only those who live on these roads are supposed to be using them as a measure to reduce any further hazard.
The town has engineers working on determining the best way to remediate the ongoing erosion. Efforts are also under way to find the money to pay for what will be a major project.
“We are getting close to something that we’re going to be able to tell the public,” said Mayor Dean Ball. “We want to get it dealt with, but this is a slow-moving issue.”
Ball said the talks about the plan and funding it involve multiple government agencies at both the provincial and federal levels.
While the immediate dangers of the initial storm and the spring runoff have now passed and water levels are relatively low right now, Ball said another significant rainstorm could quickly make things much worse.
That’s why, he noted, there has to be action taken this year.
“It’s a must,” he said. “If we wait and have another spring like this year, you won’t have to worry about Pine Tree Drive. It will take care of itself. But, with all due respect, we need a fix on that this year.”
The Upper Humber River, which empties into Deer Lake just downriver from the problem areas, is a major Atlantic salmon river.
While the importance of protecting that habitat will be considered, Ball said it will not likely be the first priority.
“We still have a neighborhood to protect,” he said. “As important as that river is, the infrastructure and roads and personal property are just as important — or more important. That would trump that for me.”
The Western Star asked the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for an interview about any concerns for the salmon habitat in the area where work will likely be conducted.
No interview was provided but the department did indicate via email that it is aware the Town of Deer Lake plans to stabilize the banks that incurred storm damage. The email stated the department will work with the town, as is deemed necessary, to mitigate any potential serious harm to fish or fish habitat.
About the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Fisheries Protection Program:
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Fisheries Protection Program assesses projects in Canadian waters to determine whether any of the work, activities, and/or undertakings associated with the project have the potential to cause a serious harm for fish and/or fish habitat.
Serious harm is defined under the Fisheries Act as: the death of fish; a permanent alteration to fish habitat; and/or the destruction of fish habitat.
Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
For more information on if a Department of Fisheries and Oceans review is required for projects near water, visit http:// www. dfo- mpo. gc. ca/ pnw- ppe/ index-eng.html.
It remains to be seen what effect Humber River bank erosion will have on Atlantic salmon.