Cape Breton homeowner says property erosion a result of provincial roadwork

·3 min read
Francis Doyle fears his well could be washed away within months. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Francis Doyle fears his well could be washed away within months. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

A Cape Breton man says erosion has claimed 30 or more metres of his property along the Lake O'Law brook, and he believes the province is responsible.

Francis Doyle of Margaree Valley claims the government redirected the brook's flow closer to his property during improvements to the Cabot Trail around the 1950s.

The 57-year-old purchased the Egypt Road home in 2002 from his brother-in-law, but said the property has been in his family since he was born.

"Over time it just keeps eroding with the nasty weather," he said.

Doyle said he contacted the province about the erosion several years ago. The provincial government responded in a letter dated March 14, 2018, saying it does not accept responsibility for the erosion.

Province 'may or may not have' altered brook

"Although the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation may or may not have altered the course of the brook during road improvements back in the 1950s, the erosion on your property is no different than that seen in other areas throughout the province," said the letter from the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services.

The letter goes on to say there are many factors that affect water flow, including weather-related events and land development.

Doyle says more than 30 metres of his land has been claimed by erosion.
Doyle says more than 30 metres of his land has been claimed by erosion.(Erin Pottie/CBC )

When CBC News asked recently if the brook was redirected decades ago, the provincial Department of Lands and Forestry replied that it was not to blame for the erosion on Doyle's property.

"We sympathize with any private property owner dealing with the impacts of flooding and erosion," spokesperson Deborah Bayer said in an email this week.

"The property is located next to a watercourse and weather events over the years have caused the watercourse to change causing erosion. It is not a result of departmental work."

Homeowner launches petition

Doyle has started a petition asking the government to rectify the ongoing damage to his land.

One of the signatories is Bob Fortune, 81, who has lived in the area all his life.

Fortune said over the years, the brook has shifted roughly six metres from its original path.

"Well, it moved on account of the road being put in there," he said. "I don't really know what they done there to move it, or they just let it cut its own way. I'm not sure."

Doyle stands in the front yard of his Margaree Valley property.
Doyle stands in the front yard of his Margaree Valley property.(Erin Pottie/CBC)

Peter Poirier, 76, a longtime fisherman who also grew up in the area said the brook was moved as a result of provincial roadwork that resulted in a small bridge being constructed on Egypt Road.

"A fella from Middle River... he was on the [bulldozer] and he changed the brook underneath the bridge, down toward Francis's," he said.

"[The brook] was on the other side of the road and it came across after they put the road in."

Well partially exposed

About a week ago, a rainstorm left Doyle's well — now on the very edge of his front lawn — partially exposed.

Doyle said he cannot afford to drill a new well, so he's asked organizations that run environmental restoration programs for help in stopping the erosion.

"I'm kind of stuck, I don't know where to turn any more," he said. "Without any help or assistance, all I can do is sit back and ... watch it erode."

MORE TOP STORIES