CBC News has learned the operator of a generating station on the Current River is suing the city of Thunder Bay for more than $7 million.

A lawyer for Robert Whiteside has filed a statement of claim in Superior Court, alleging the city breached contractual and fiduciary obligations in its management of water outflows at the Boulevard Lake dam.

Whiteside has been running a generator below the dam since 1986. The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Whiteside and the Current River Hydro Partnership.

The court document alleges that, in 1991, the city agreed to the construction of a fish ladder at the dam, without any consideration of its implications for power generation.

It also claims the city did nothing to dissuade Thunder Bay Hydro from ending its purchase agreement with Whiteside 12 years ago, forcing him to sell power at a cheaper rate to the Ontario Power Authority.

The suit further alleges that, last September, Whiteside's equipment suffered more than $400,000 damage when the city closed intake valves to the generator, without notice.

He is seeking an injunction requiring the City of Thunder Bay to cease diverting necessary water flows from the hydroelectric generator.

Whiteside is also asking for an injunction requiring the city to cease operation of the fish ladder, and an order requiring the city to stop and prevent leakage from the dam.

Thunder Bay city hall confirms it has been served with notice of a claim. The city's lawyer will brief council on the situation in a closed meeting later this month.

None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.

Specific claims in the suit:

  • $4.8 million for damages for lost income and lost opportunity for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence
  • $400,000 in damages for breach of contract, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty for causing damage to the plaintiff's hydroelectric generator
  • $2 million in exemplary and punitive damages