The city will remove the beaver dam upstream of Idlewild Lake in response to safety concerns posed to the Idlewild Lake dam as well as upstream flooding issues. Trevor Crawley photo.

City to remove beaver dam upstream of Idlewild Lake

The city will remove the beaver dam built upstream from Idlewild Lake, following direction from city council and recommendations from engineering consultants.

Main concerns with the beaver dam involved potential downstream impacts to Idewild Lake and the Idelwild Lake dam if the beaver dam ever collapsed and released the backfilled water into the lake. The beaver dam is also causing the upstream water levels to rise, which is affecting adjacent private properties.

“The one thing we missed this year, luckily, is we didn’t get a harsh freshet, spring thaw that would cause an overflow and water just forcing it’s way through there,” said Councillor Ron Popoff, during discussions on Monday.

“By getting lucky and missing that, it prevented further damage to the property upstream of that, so it’s not the beaver, it’s the beaver dam. It was never intended to have beaver dams in and around Idlewild Park. We’ve learned from this and lets move on.”

The beaver dam, which is built across Joseph Creek just upstream from the southeast corner of the lake near the pedestrian bridge, has been in place for roughly a year.

In the winter, a dam safety officer inspected Idlewild Lake dam and the beaver dam, recommending it’s removal. An engineering firm hired by the city — the same one that designed the new Idlewild Lake Dam — concurred, identified risks such as overtopping the earthfill dam, as well as debris causing a blockage of the spillway or the low-level outlet pipe.

“Safety has to be our number one priority in the dam safety and when you’re hearing from the dam safety inspection…if we do otherwise, we’re opening the city up to huge liability,” said Councillor Wayne Price.

A property owner upstream from the beaver dam outlined her concerns in a letter to the city, which included constant running of her sump pump, a vulnerable septic field to standing water, fence line posts under water in an area where horses are kept, and property value being affected by consistent flooding.

The beaver dam was lowered and reduced in size in June, in response to upstream flooding and damage to private property. A trail camera was also placed in the area, but the beavers haven’t been spotted nor has there been any rebuilding activity, according to staff.

Howevver, a photo of a downed tree on the south end of the lake was sent in to the Townsman on Monday (July 25) by a member of the public, but it is unclear whether that was caused by a beaver.

While the beaver dam will be removed, there is no recommendation to remove the beavers if indeed they still are hanging around Idlewild Park. However, if experts deem it necessary to remove them, staff will update city council as information comes available.

City council and staff will review the situation in the fall to provide updates and determine future action, if necessary.

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