Leaking canal causing trouble in Deer Lake

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on May 13, 2014

A resident of Deer Lake is preparing to move out of his home due to an issue with mould he says is caused by the water coming into his basement from the Deer Lake Canal.

Richard Dewey moved into his Garden Road home two years ago and now he’s looking to rent a place for his family to live.

“We have to move out. We’re all having headaches and other issues,” he said. “We believe it’s mould related.”

An air quality test done on the home, which was fully renovated in the last year, confirmed the home is full of mould.

That’s left Dewey with a home he can’t live in and can’t sell until the problem is corrected.

Dewey knew there was some water issue with the property when he bought it, but didn’t think it was anything that couldn’t be overcome.

That was until he realized his issue was part of a bigger one that he said affects about 300 homes around the Deer Lake Power owned canal on Elizabeth Avenue, Garden Road and Devon Road.

“The canal is above and behind our houses and it leaks. It has about 17 brooks that lead out of it and they go nowhere, they just flow down towards our properties.”

He said most homes have had to resort to the use of sump pumps, some more than one, just to deal with the water.

“I have a brook that runs through my basement, literally, a brook that runs through my basement 365 days a year.”

Dewey said he’s been trying to get the town to address the issue for some time and has called them to look at his property. During one conversation, Dewey asked why a brook was piped into his property and said he was told to contact Kruger, owners of Deer Lake Power, because it was their responsibility.

He said when he contacted Kruger he was told the town was rerouting the brooks and had been doing so against the advice of the company.

Dewey also said that his research into the issue uncovered a plan by the town from back in the ’70s to try to correct the issue with the water leaking from the canal.

“The town developed a plan to trench the canal between the houses and the canal,” he said. The trenching was to be done in both directions in hopes it would catch the seepage. Work had been started on the $280,000 project, but was stopped after only a few days.

Dewey believes trenching would be a first step in fixing the problem.

As he’s tried to get the town to do something, he’s also been gathering support from others affected by the issue. He said residents met with council more than a year ago, and at the time it was suggested they form a committee to officially address the matter with the town.

Dewey said they did, and as the chair of the group he’s sent the names to the town several times with no response.

He said the committee even contacted area MHA and Liberal Leader Dwight Ball, but with no luck there moved on to NDP MHA George Murphy, critic for both Transportation and Works and Municipal Affairs.

Murphy brought their concerns up in the House of Assembly during Question Period on Monday.

After, Murphy told The Western Star he wants to find out who is responsible for the issue — the town or Deer Lake Power — as it has the potential to be more than a municipal issue.

“We’ve got $118 million of taxpayers money, remember, that’s gone to the Kruger mill and Deer Lake Power is part of the collateral that they offered up,” he said

He said if it’s a Deer Lake Power issue then the province has to have some evidence that the ower of the assets right now is going to be looking after the residents of the area.

He said should the asset become property of the province, then it might end up with an expensive repair.

Should the responsibility fall to the municipality, Murphy said “it would probably be an expensive fix as well. So we need to know if government is gonna be there to help out the municipality there at the same time if it’s found that Kruger is not responsible.

“They’re still gonna need massive dollars here to help as far as I’m concerned. This is a major capital works program that the Town of Deer Lake is going to have to undertake.”

In response to Murphy’s questions, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent said he had been in communication with the town on the matter and told it was communicating with those affected. He also suggested Murphy contact Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball himself.

Murphy said he plans to continue to question the situation in the House.

Meanwhile, messages left for Ball were not returned as of press time.