SOUTH RIVER – After nearly five years of living next door to a dilapidated construction zone, Eagle Lake residents are glad to see it gone.
It was 2008 when a portion of a home under construction flooded into the lake after an attempt to divert a stream using three one-foot culverts instead of the recommended three-foot culvert.
This lead to charges by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and a conviction for homeowner Richard Danks in 2010 where he was ordered to pay $16,000 including $8,000 in restitution to the Eagle Lake Conservation Association.
According to Machar Township Mayor Doug Maeck, the homeowner was convicted in late November for falsifying information on a building permit.
“That’s what’s lead to this,” he said. “Once we had that conviction it allowed the building inspector to move forward on some outstanding work orders on that building.”
Maeck says the building inspector had an order to remedy an unsafe building. He says the homeowner was advised in June that he had until the end of December to take remedial steps fix it. That work was not completed.
A structural engineer inspected the home and the building inspector came back with a recommendation to council. Maeck says council followed due process, which is why it has taken this long for council to pass a bylaw authorizing the demolition.
“Council was under the opinion that the building was not in compliance so down it came,” he said.
Fowler Construction won the tender for $9,290 plus taxes. A lien will be put against the property. Maeck says it was a very detailed tender because they wanted to ensure that work approved by the DFO was not disturbed.
“There are a lot of happy people,” said Maeck. “It was an unsafe building and we as council felt we gave him over six months to remedy the situation.”
Sharon Dreher is one of those happy people.
Demolition began on Thursday, March 14 and wrapped up on following Monday.
“It’s kind of a shame. There was a lot of money put into that place,” said Maeck. “But, it was unsafe. As a Township we were concerned that if anyone trespassed on that property they could get hurt.”
“It was a safety risk,” said Sharon. “There were people down there wandering around. They’d be looking at it. If it ever came down on somebody… that was the biggest concern.”
Mike Mitchell, president of the Eagle Lake Conservation Association was pleased to learn of the building’s demolition.
“It was structurally unsound,” he said. “Even from the road you could see that it was going to be a problem. If it collapsed more, more debris would end up in the lake.”
Sharon says the site became a popular tourist attraction.
“After it happened Scarlett Road was the biggest spectacle around. It was a tourist attraction,” she said. “Word spreads in a smaller community pretty quickly.”
The site has been leveled off and the basement and footings removed.
“It looks quite nice now,” she says, comparing the site after Monday to the five years prior. “When you had to sit outside when you had company and listen to the Typar flapping in the breeze.”
She says when the Fowler Construction truck pulled up and the excavator unloaded their jaws dropped.
“Fowler’s did an awesome job. They cleaned up the site. Every little bit of insulation and cement was gone,” she said. “One guy was out there with a snow shovel making sure that the excavator took everything.”
They leveled it off and the culvert, by order of the DFO, remains.
“We’ll see what happens when the spring comes,” said Sharon. “The creek runs pretty good.”
With there no longer being a house the ramifications of a spring flood will be less.
“It would be nice to see the culverts come out so the creek could go back to the normal route,” she said. “We’ll see in the spring what happens.”
She says during a thaw last December the water was still running through the basement of the house and on the other side of the culvert.
“It wasn’t going through the culvert properly,” she said. “We’ll see.”
Mitchell says the Association did receive the $8,000 in restitution, with the funds being allocated to rehabilitate the lake.
“We can’t use the money to stock fish or anything like that. We have to rehabilitate the lake,” he said. “If there is nothing needed in the proximity of the Danks property then we will look to the membership to come up with some ideas of how we can use that funding in a positive manner to improve the quality of the lake.”