Letter to the editor 2, March 7, 2019
The continuing duplicity concerning Pine Lake
In August, 2016 I made a complaint to two Quebec ministers about the Pine Lake mess and nothing happened.
I passed this complaint to the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC and was told August 22, 2016 that the MRC does not have the necessary competence to examine or take corrective measures.
And yet, the same day the MRC informed me of this, I was told by a Pine Lake resident that two ‘inspectors’ were coming to inspect my property. No one realized then that these were ‘MRC inspectors.’ I then received another note from the MRC four days later with some confusing comments about who was responsible – however it appears that the MRC does have the overall responsibility for this water course, and the inspectors were from the MRC, contradicting the August 22 note.
Under MRC By-law 167-15-1 the MRC had jurisdiction and authority for environmental matters including soil erosion near wetlands. The Municipal Powers Act also makes the MRC the regional authority responsible for water courses, including manmade/artificial lakes (part 103).
I then heard about a 2017 evaluation completed by the MRC of Pine Lake assessing the damage and safety impact of this empty lake resulting from the unrepaired dam. I requested a copy of this report and was told this was not possible in order to protect the identity of a complainant who was the basis for this evaluation. I asked if I could have a redacted copy, and gave several names of people who might be the complainant (they had agreed to its release) and was told this was not possible and that the names I gave were not the complainant. I then filed a complaint with the Commission d'accès à l'information (CAI) to gain access to this information.
Then, only last month, we realized there was no MRC ‘evaluation of the lake situation’ – it was the 2016 report for the damage and safety of only the property of the complainant – and the MRC had misled me about the identity which was in fact a name I had given. I then obtained a copy of this report.
It is an incomplete and amateurish report, at first indicating there are no damage or safety problems, and then suggesting that shrubs could be planted by the property owners to “stop the erosion.” There are 10 pages of poor photographs illustrating very little. The report ignores the impact of this empty lake which has resulted in considerable erosion, mature trees falling into the basin, the damage to all private properties around the lake, a dysfunctional catchment/containment basin, other environmental damage and safety issues, erosion downstream, road culvert damage. It mentions nothing at all about the legal obligations the town fully accepted since the 1984 council resolution and deed of sale requiring Hudson to maintain and repair this dam and lake including dredging, water quality monitoring, etc.
However, surprisingly the MRC responsibilities for this watercourse are acknowledged in this ‘report,’ and it requires that Hudson act “without delay” in informing the MRC about its plans and to correct the current situation. And after 30 months Hudson has not responded to this MRC directive.
The report appears to be an attempt to dilute impact and responsibility for this mess and there is a clear conflict here when the ‘assessment’ is completed by one of the parties responsible for this water course, and in collaboration with the other responsible party.
It is time for Quebec and the MRC to respect and act on their responsibilities and put Hudson on notice for its failed management of this public asset and water course and the responsibilities agreed to in its conditional 1984 purchase.
There is no basis or justification for this lake to be left to ‘revert’ to any previous form of the Viviry River, which would also result in a multitude of problems including further damage to private property, further harm to the biodiversity of this area, and result in potentially serious safety problems.
If Hudson fails to act then the MRC should and then give the bill to Hudson.