City of Kawartha Lakes fined $75K for alleged violations under Fisheries Act

On January 31, 2019, the Corporation of the City of Kawartha Lakes entered into a diversion agreement with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada after Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) laid charges under the Fisheries Act. The agreement requires the city to pay $75,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund; update their standard operating procedures for drain works; and publish a notice of the incident on the city’s website. Charges laid against the city will be withdrawn once all measures outlined in the diversion agreement have been met, as determined by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

The City of Kawathra Lakes in Ontario, approximately 70 kilometres northeast of Toronto. Kawartha Lakes is the size of a typical Ontario county and is mostly rural. It is the second largest single-tier municipality in Ontario by land area.

In August 2014, a city-hired contractor carried out maintenance work on the a drainage works. The work resulted in a sediment release into the fish-bearing waterway. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers investigated the incident and determined that the sediment concentrations released during the work were deleterious to fish. It was also determined that the work was undertaken without taking adequate steps to mitigate the release of sediments into the waterway.

Maintenance is performed on drainage works to prevent flooding

Kawartha Lakes communications manager Cheri Davidson told MyKawthra.com that there was concern that the method used to dismantle the blockage resulted in silt and sediment being released into that drain when one of the city’s silt controls failed, which in turn resulted in the death of fish. 

The City of Kawartha Lakes agreed to donate $75,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) on condition that the charges laid by ECCC be withdrawn.

Kawartha Lakes has made changes to the way it looks after drains to reduce the possibility for sediment to escape into the surrounding environment. The municipality has also funded Kawartha Conservation’s update to the drain maintenance classification. 

Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Fund follows the polluter pays principle and ensures that court-awarded penalties are used for projects with positive environmental impacts.

The $75,000 donation from the City of Kawathra Lakes to Environmental Damages Fund will be available for the next five years to support projects within the municipality that focus on environmental restoration, environmental quality improvement, research and development, or education. To apply for funding, see:  https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-funding/damages-fund.html