City had no hand in Power Dam beaver lodge, says manager

In this Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 photo provided by Tommy Sauve, a beaver sits next to a dam along Power Dam Drive in Cornwall, Ont. The dam has created flooding along the major artery. (Tommy Sauve via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A top administrator with the City of Cornwall says the city had nothing to do with the apparent destruction of part of a beaver habitat on Power Dam Drive.

Problems with the beavers came to a head Friday after a portion of the road was flooded.

Sharon McCullough of Peter Street had accused the city of sending in machinery three weeks earlier where a driver had “smashed down an innocent beaver lodge, with the beavers inside.”

But John St. Marseille, general manager of infrastructure and municipal works, said a backhoe opened a culvert on the city’s right-of-way next to the road because of a public safety issue.

“The property is not owned by the City of Cornwall. The City did not hire a contractor to go onto the site on Saturday,” St. Marseille expressed in an email to CNW about the long-standing issue.

“This was done to improve water flow and ease flooding concerns; however, the beaver hut was not impacted during this work,” St. Marseille wrote.

CNW has learned the land west of Power Dam Drive is owned by Hydro One Networks, while the land east of the road is mostly owned by Bray Construction.

But who exactly was working on the land three weeks ago is a multi-jurisdictional mystery.

“My true, true concern now is very soon the (three) lodges on the east side of Power Dam Drive will be smashed in the same way!” McCullough said.

Jolanta Kowalski, spokesperson with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said landowners have to be cognizant of land downstream when taking out beaver dams or lodges.

“I think there could very well be repercussions of some kind. If you’re not being cautious in the way that you proceed, and it causes flooding, I believe there are charges and penalties that could be laid. You can’t just go ahead and do something,” she said.

Kowalski said if a dam was removed that affected fish habitat that could be a case for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Nancy Clark with Hydro One Networks, the landowner, sent a crew to the site on Tuesday morning after an inquiry from Cornwall Newswatch. Clark said it didn’t appear there was any activity on the hydro corridor with respect to the beaver dam or lodge removal.

Hydro One Networks is still looking into the case.

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