Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball has publicly reaffirmed his commitment to the residents experiencing flooding believed to be from Deer Lake canal.
Many, if not all, people who live on Elizabeth Avenue, Garden Road and Devon Road built or bought their homes on wet land. They use sump pumps — some properties two or three — to handle the water that would overtake their basements or lower level of their homes.
Those people have signed a petition — now totalling 71 signatures of those directly impacted by flooding — by what is believed to be water coming from Deer Lake canal.
The petition, which is expected to increase in signatures, was presented to Deer Lake council prior to its public meeting Monday evening. About 300 homes in the area are believed to be impacted in some way.
Kay Moore attended the meeting, and participated in the question and answer session that followed.
About 30 residents attended the public meeting, many of whom believe the problem — which they are attributing to some combination of leaking weirs or seepage from the canal bottom.
Moore said she remembers trenches near her home growing up, because she was told to stay away from them. She believes they helped divert water from people’s properties. However, they no longer exist these days. She said they disappeared with continual residential development of the area.
Residents are lobbying for a ditch to be dug along the canal to divert water from flowing or seeping toward their properties. It remains undecided whether this would resolve the problem, according to Ball.
Moore said her mother is sick, and attributes to living in mould. She said she has also been feeling ill at times recently. She remembers about 10 years ago when she raised the hatch for her basement, only to stare at water just inches from the floor.
“If I was to put my foot down about this far (holding her fingers about an inch apart), it would have been in water,” she said, outside the town hall after the meeting. “It was up over the electrical panel and everything.”
Residents, many who described the flooding as having increased in recent years, are lobbying for the town to fight on their behalf to have the long-standing issue resolved. Some of those in attendance said previous councils have known about it, but did nothing for them.
The current council has met with representatives of Kruger, the Department of Environment and Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent. A request has been with government for an engineer to look into the problem. Kruger is expected to provide the city with documentation on the situation today. The pulp and paper powerhouse Kruger owns Deer Lake Power, which is responsible for Deer Lake canal.
Amidst questions over whether the town is willing to take Kruger to task over the problem, Ball said the town must first find out the root of the problem and then exactly who is responsible.
“I have no problem going after Kruger for a ditch,” the mayor said. “Before I do, I want to make sure there is no egg coming back on my face, that I know what I am talking about.”
The town will also ask the provincial government to fast-track an engineering report on the situation in hopes of finding the exact cause. No timeline for such a report has been provided to date.
Ball and Coun. Kerry Jones said council has been quiet publicly about the issue because they need to be certain whose responsibility it is. Also, they said if they have to spend taxpayers money themselves, they want to be certain it will fix it.
The crowd of about 30 remained civil throughout the meeting and the follow-up afterwards. However, they did stress the importance of a solution.
Richard Dewey, who has taken a lead on behalf of the residents, said the situation is critical.
“If they were holding chemical waste and we all knew what was going on, we’d be all up in arms about why they are spilling stuff onto our property,” he said. “This is the same to us as chemical waste.”