Closer to tak­ing ac­tion

Deer Lake hopes to soon pro­vide de­tails on Hum­ber River bank ero­sion mit­i­ga­tion plan

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN

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.

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