Landowners have to remove beaver dams

By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo

Landowners are responsible for maintaining drains that were constructed by the province, under the Drainage Act, in previously-unorganized municipalities.
If there is a beaver dam located on one of these drains, then the landowner is responsible for removing it.
In signing the application form for the construction of these drains with an 80 percent grant, the landowners had to agree to pay for any future maintenance.
If it is a natural watercourse (i.e., creek, river, stream, etc.), again the landowners are responsible for removing the beaver dam, although they may have to get permission or approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
If a road is being flooded as a result of a downstream beaver dam, or if the road is threatened as a result of an upstream beaver pond, the road authority (MTO or municipality) may get involved in removing it so the threat is erased.
If a beaver dam is located on a municipal drain, the affected landowner should notify the municipality.
The municipality has an obligation to remove the dam, and has the right to enter onto private property to do the work and also have the right to assess the costs back to the landowners on the drain.
What options does an upstream landowner have if a downstream landowner refuses to remove a beaver dam located on their property on a natural watercourse or on a drain constructed under the Drainage Act?
If a beaver dam is located on a natural watercourse in an organized municipality, the owner of the property where the dam is located has no obligation to remove it on behalf of his upstream landowner.
The only options the upstream landowner has are to (a). continue to negotiate a solution with the downstream landowner or (b). petition under the Drainage Act for a new municipal drain.
If a beaver dam is located on a drain constructed in a previously-unorganized municipality, the above two options apply.
In addition, since at the time the drain was constructed, the landowners had agreed to maintain the drain, the upstream landowner also could take legal action against the neighbour who is refusing to do the work.
If a beaver dam is located on a drain constructed in an unorganized municipality, and the municipality is still unorganized, the upstream landowner has the option to (a). continue to negotiate a solution with the downstream landowner or (b). take legal action against the neighbour who is refusing to do the work.
If a beaver dam is located on a natural watercourse in an unorganized municipality, the owner of the property where the dam is located has no obligation to remove it on behalf of his upstream landowner.
The only options the upstream landowner has are to (a). continue to negotiate a solution with the downstream landowner or (b). file an “Application for Provincial Aid to Drainage Assistance in Unorganized Territorial Districts” with the local OMAFRA office.
However, each landowner where work may be performed must sign this application in order for OMAFRA to proceed.
Therefore, if the owner of the property where the dam is located is unwilling to sign the application, this process will not work.

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