Charlottetown considers ending ditch infilling program

The City of Charlottetown is looking at ending the ditch infilling program.

After completing much of the city over the past few decades, city staff say there are maintenance and environmental concerns associated with the program.

The program to install storm sewers on all streets and infill the ditches began with amalgamation in 1995. The aim was to give all the communities similar services, including a storm water system. 

To date, the city has about 12.5 km of residential and 1.5 km of commercial ditches to be infilled, which is projected to cost between $11.5-15.5 million to complete.

Recently, the public works and environment departments at the city started to review the program.

Scott Adams, manager of public works for the city, said infilling has been causing some issues and requires a lot of upkeep.

"There's a lot more maintenance, there's more infrastructure to maintain and so it causes some more long-term issues on public works side," he said.

Environmental concerns

And Adams said there are environmental concerns too. 

Natalia Goodwin/CBC

"Having the open ditches helps recharge the groundwater. Open ditches, if you have a significant rainfall, sometimes can hold more water than an infilled ditch," he said. 

"Because it can slightly overflow but still not impact homes."

The recommendation from public works said ditch infilling would continue on some streets that have already been designated up to the 2021 construction season, but stop after that.

Residents would also still be free to infill their own ditches at their own cost.

The city would also still infill for safety reasons.

Councillor against idea

Coun. Greg Rivard doesn't like that idea. He said some residents in West Royalty have been waiting years to have their ditches infilled.

"To end the ditch infill program now would mean that the residents of these streets would not get the same treatment as some of the residents have in West Royalty."

Rivard said he understands the environmental concerns, but said the program is too far along now.

Tom Steepe/CBC

"If we can rewind the clock back to the start of the ditch infill program we may think differently today seeing what the cost is and seeing what the environmental impacts are," he said.

"I think it's unfair for the residents that haven't had theirs done."

The recommendation is now in the hands of council, which will vote on it at an upcoming meeting. 

More P.E.I. news