Residents talk legal action, town waits for information

Diane Crocker
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Residents along Deer Lake Canal will talk to St. John’s lawyer Bob Buckingham in the next few days about potential legal action over flooding in their homes they say is the result of seepage from the canal.

Some trees in the area between the canal and the residential area of Elizabeth Avenue, Garden Road and Devon Road in Deer Lake have recently been cut down. But no one is saying if it’s related to an ongoing issue of flooding in the area.

The possibility of legal action comes as a result of what Richard Dewey said is slow movement by the town, Kruger, owners of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. and Deer Lake Power, and the province on dealing with the issue.

The resident of Garden Road went public in May with complaints of the flooding and the impact — from water in basements to mould — it’s having on residents.

The decades-old issue affects about 300 homes around the Deer Lake Power-owned canal on Elizabeth Avenue, Garden Road and Devon Road.

“We’ve got people that are pointing fingers at each other. Kruger is pointing fingers at the town for rerouting brooks and the town is pointing fingers at Kruger because of the canal,” said Dewey.

“Really, it’s just a blame game. Neither one of them want to be responsible for what’s taking place,” he said.

“Basically, they’re just in limbo,” he said. “And we’re still flooding out.”

But Dewey believes a potential issue for the town is that minutes from council meetings from the 1960s and ’70s show that flooding has been an issue for years.

He said he found a plan by the town to address the issue in council meeting minutes from 1976.

“They were given a drawing on how to trench the canal to stop the flooding,” said Dewey.

But he can’t find anything afterward to say they had done any work.

Dewey said he monitors the situation along the canal daily and in recent days has seen some tree cutting occurring.

“They’re cutting a pretty serious treeline,” he said while walking in the area Tuesday afternoon.

“They’re cutting a treeline just on the bank that leads towards our homes. They’re clearing all the trees along the bottom of that bank about 20 feet from the bottom. It looks as though it would be the trench area, if that’s what they’re doing.”

However, neither Dewey nor The Western Star was able to confirm with Kruger or the town who was cutting the trees and why.

Dewey said there was a dive team in the canal, but again that could not be confirmed.


Working on problem

Meanwhile, Mayor Dean Ball wants the residents to know that the town plans to pick up the pace on the issue.

“Because the file is now getting aged.”

Ball said the town has been in communication with Kruger and has requested documentation on the seepage from the canal.

“Eventually, that’s going to get us something, whether it’s good or bad,” said Ball.

“But we don’t have anything on paper yet and basically we’ve got to have it on paper. … We’ve got to get that documentation before we can make any more decisions.”

When contacted for an interview on the issue, Ric Tull, vice-president and general manager of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, would only say, “We’re dealing with the municipality on that right now.”


Seeking details

Dewey also said he received a letter from Steve Kent, former municipal affairs minister, last week saying the province has asked Kruger for all pertinent information on the dams and all other infrastructure, including the canal, to ensure it is up to Canadian dam regulations.

Dewey finds it odd the province is wondering about that now, after it made Deer Lake Power the collateral for the loan it gave Kruger.

There was no response to a request for an update on the province’s involvement, including an interview with the current minster, as of deadline.

In the meantime, time is running out for Dewey. He’s been considering leaving his home, and said in all likelihood his family will be out within the week.

It’s going to be costly for him, as he’ll have to pay rent and a mortgage, but he’s hoping the headaches and other medical issues he’s experienced over the past year will disappear once he’s out of the house.

He’s also having an air-quality test conducted at his father’s home on Elizabeth Avenue and expects the results of that will mean his dad will move with him.

“The outside of the house is covered in black, so I’m pretty sure what the results are going to be.”


The Western Star

Organizations: Corner Brook Pulp and Paper

Geographic location: Garden Road, Elizabeth Avenue, Devon Road Western Star Corner Brook

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