End­less heartache at Bot­tom­less Pond

Cabin owner still hopes to sal­vage roof, the only part of his cabin still above the wa­ter line

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN

This is the se­cond col­lec­tion of ar­ti­cles in our cov­er­age of the an­niver­sary of the Jan­uary 2018 flood­ing.

After the big thaw of Jan. 13, 2018, Mark Hoyles thought the washed-out woods road into Bot­tom­less Pond was the big­gest con­cern he would have for ac­cess­ing his cabin there. He wouldn’t be more wrong. The level of the pond rose a lit­tle bit after the ma­jor rain­storm and snowmelt from mild tem­per­a­tures, but he still didn’t think much of that at first.

When the pond kept ris­ing in the spring, it be­came more of a worry. By May, the newly es­tab­lished shore­lines had reached his cabin and were pro­ceed­ing far be­yond it.

His cabin started to slip deeper and deeper be­low the sur­face of the pond. De­spite the wa­ter tem­po­rar­ily re­ced­ing for a bit dur­ing the hot sum­mer months, it be­gan ris­ing again in the rainy fall.

Now, with the wa­ter level hav­ing risen some­where be­tween 20 and 25 feet from what it was last year, only the roof of his cabin is vis­i­ble above the frozen-over pond.

“It’s been pretty dev­as­tat­ing,” Hoyles said. “I never thought in my life this would ever hap­pen.”

There are ac­tu­ally five cab­ins sub­merged and en­cased in Bot­tom­less Pond ice this win­ter, In­clud­ing one owned by Hoyles’ brother Melvin.

Hoyles had been hop­ing to sal­vage as much of his cabin as he could down to the wa­ter line.

“All I can save now is the roof trusses,” he said. “Ev­ery­thing else in the cabin is not of much use any­more.”

Bot­tom­less Pond is be­lieved to have a nat­u­ral drainage sys­tem some­where on the bot­tom of the pond. Hoyles be­lieves that drainage has been blocked by sed­i­ment and de­bris as a re­sult of last Jan­uary’s flood­ing event.

If he’s right, Hoyles said there should be con­cerns about what will hap­pen next. He said the wa­ter could con­tinue to rise when this spring’s thaw ar­rives and more land could be lost to the wa­ter.

Con­se­quently, should the drainage sys­tem some­how be­come un­clogged, he fears there could be flash flood­ing at wher­ever it does drain out.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “No one re­ally knows where the pond runs out.”

Hoyles has not yet paid the Crown land fees billed to him by the pro­vin­cial govern­ment for the cabin prop­erty in 2018. Given it’s been un­der­wa­ter most of the year, he has no in­ten­tions of pay­ing it.

He said he’s been re­ceiv­ing no­tices that the out­stand­ing bill has been re­ferred to a col­lec­tions agency.

He has been work­ing with the Hum­ber-Gros Morne con­stituency of­fice of Pre­mier Dwight Ball to con­vince the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources to re­lease him and the other af­fected cabin own­ers from their land lease obli­ga­tions.

Last July, the De­part­ment told The Western Star there are no pro­grams avail­able through Crown Lands that would al­low re­duced or waived fees and cabin own­ers like Hoyles would still be re­spon­si­ble for pay­ment.

“I don’t know how this is go­ing to go, but we have to get these let­ters in from the con­stituency of­fice and see where it goes from there,” said Hoyles.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

This is what the cabin be­long­ing to Mark Hoyles’ neigh­bour, his brother Melvin Hoyles, looked like dur­ing his visit there Dec. 29. One year be­fore, his fam­ily cel­e­brated New Year’s Eve there.

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