On January 31, 2019, the Corporation of the City of Kawartha Lakes resolved charges laid against it under the Fisheries Act by entering into a “diversion agreement” which will see the charges withdrawn in exchange for the city taking the following actions:
- paying $75,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund;
- updating their standard operating procedures for drain works; and
- publishing a notice of the incident on the city’s website.
A “diversion agreement” is a mechanism available pursuant to section 717 of the Criminal Code that applies to all federal offences by operation of section 34(2) of the federal Interpretation Act and allows Crown prosecutors to resolve first-time offences outside of the Court system.
The charges related to an incident that occurred in August 2014 when a City contractor was carrying out maintenance work on a municipal drain in Lindsay, Ontario.
A city press release explains that the work, which was done in accordance with a permit issued by the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority, involved the removal of vegetation, silt accumulation, and several beaver dams from the drain. Unfortunately, this work resulted in silt/sediment being released into the drain when one of the City’s silt controls failed.
Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers investigated the incident and determined that the sediment concentrations released during the work were deleterious to fish, and constituted an offense under section 36 of the Fisheries Act.
The $75,000 voluntary payment to the Environmental Damages Fund will go to support projects within the City of the Kawartha Lakes that focus on environmental restoration, environmental quality improvement, research and development, or education.