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St. Anthony man upset over restrictions; pays for ditch out of his own pocket

After a lengthy period of requests, denials and change of plans, Mitchell Hunt went ahead and had a ditch dug on his property in St. Anthony. He says due to recurring water damage and difficulties with the Department of Transportation and Works, he dug the ditch himself without the department’s approval.
After a lengthy period of requests, denials and change of plans, Mitchell Hunt went ahead and had a ditch dug on his property in St. Anthony. He says due to recurring water damage and difficulties with the Department of Transportation and Works, he dug the ditch himself without the department’s approval.

ST. ANTHONY, NL - A St. Anthony man fed up with regulations on his property is taking matters into his own hands — no matter the consequences.    

Mitchell Hunt, along with his neighbours, says he has suffered recurrent water damage on his lawn, driveway and home. Rainfall and snow have routinely brought ruin to Hunt’s house.


He sees as high as 12 feet of snow on his property in the winter and dealt with flooding recently.


“There’s nothing for the water to run to, so it goes off into my lawn and under my house,” Hunt said. “I’ll have to fix up my house every year because of it.”


Hunt has gone ahead and paid for a ditch along his property, but he has not been granted a permit to do so by the Department of Transportation and Works. He says after a difficult history with the department he would rather face the consequences then wait on their solutions.


“I got a right to protect my home from mould and mildew,” Hunt told the Northern Pen.


Hunt says he first contacted the Department of Transportation and Works to approve a ditch in front of the house earlier this year. After rainwater wrought more harm on his neighbourhood, he pursued the matter further and says he spent $1,500 to level his driveway so water could run off into a proposed ditch.


But Hunt says he then received the abrupt call that led to his current frustration.


“Last week I’m informed that I’m just going to have more water trouble because of this driveway,” Hunt said.


According to Hunt, the Department had planned a swale for the property – a descending tract that would go from being 1 foot to 1.5 ft deep by its end – and his driveway renovation would be pointless. With the extensive snow and rain communities like St. Anthony get, Hunt felt a swale was inefficient.


Frustrated, Hunt says he told the supervisor for Transportation and Works he spoke with to call the whole thing off.


But he says when he returned from a trip to Corner Brook the following day, Hunt found that the project had gone ahead anyway. While he was hoping for some time to revaluate how to prevent the build up of snow and water on his land, he says he found his neighbour’s paved driveway had already been partly torn up to make way for the future swale.


In an emailed response, the Department of Transportation and Works says the measures recommended for Hunt’s property were the results of an extensive review that coincides with road regulations.


But as a result of his disagreement with the proposed swale, Hunt says he felt past the breaking point, and is too limited in what he can do with his land.


As of Aug. 9 , Hunt has now paid for and dug a ditch on the property, one that he feels will be deep and wide enough to protect his home.
In the emailed response, the Department of Transportation and Works says if an individual wishes to go forward with work on their own property, they have to apply for a permit. The department then grants the permit if it is line with regulations regarding highway Right of Ways.


Hunt says he may receive a fine for digging the ditch himself without a permit, but is prepared to go to court over it.


“I’m just trying to stop water from entering my house, and I’m being prevented from doing what I have to get done,” said Hunt. “I’m fighting to dig a ditch on my own land, it’s too foolish to talk about.”

kyle.greenham@thenorthernpen.ca

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