The Village of Chase has had to stop work on its new community wharf and is under investigation by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations.
Edi Torrans, senior licence compliance and enforcement officer, said Friday the village did not get a permit from the ministry before starting work on the removal and replacement of its Centennial Wharf this winter.
“They didn’t have any approvals in place under the Water Act to do work on the foreshore,” she said.
“What’s happening now is the village voluntarily shut down work and they’re working with the province to get approvals in place.”
The investigation includes looking into the burning of some of the old wharf wood in a pile on the beach and the use of heavy equipment in the shoreline area.
Torrans said the village issued itself a burning permit for the wood, but there are provincial regulations against burning demolition waste.
“They need to make sure that they’re not impacting the environment there. It is clear they had heavy equipment working right up in the lake. You certainly need approvals before that happens and make sure all the appropriate agencies are on board,” she said.
While the investigation is still ongoing, the village will be getting some approvals to recommence work on the wharf construction. However, there will be restrictions on how that work can be done, she said.
“Once the approvals are in place, the village wants to start work again. That won’t be held up by our investigation. We recognize they need to get this work done,” she said.
“There can be very severe fines under the Water Act for not complying. I think we’ll be working to come to a resolution. I can’t really say where that’s going to go at this point.
“The village is working hard to make things right on their own as well.”
Village administrator Joni Heinrich said the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans was consulted ahead of the construction, but it wasn’t realized the province also had a role to play.
“We haven’t done a wharf construction project before. We just missed it,” she said.
“It was a boo boo. We had asked the contractor to get all the required permits. They talked to DFO, but neither of us realized we needed to talk to the province either.”
Ministry staff have visited the site and asked the village not to do any work involving heavy machinery on the lake bed itself for the time being, she said.
“We can do some work now from the concrete boat launch and the shore. But there is work they need to do beyond the reach, so we’re not sure what they’re going to tell us. We hope to know next week.”
The town’s water intake is downstream from the site, but Interior Health didn’t have concerns about leaching from the beachside burning, she said.
“His opinion is there’s no concerns in terms of any toxicity of things going into the lake.”
Heinrich said the delay isn’t expected to scrap the wharf entirely, it just means construction has to be careful. She still expects the wharf will be done by mid-May.
“We want to do a grand opening at some point,” she said.
“It’s a big part of our community.”