Chatham-Kent Council has approved the next steps to help with flooding along Erie Shore Drive.
Standing water is building up on Erie Shore Drive, and sections of the road have seen flooding over the weekend. The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority placed the area under a flood warning on Feb. 4.
The LTVCA asks that all non-essential traffic avoid the area to ensure emergency services can access the area if required.
“With freezing temperatures in the forecast, there is a risk that wave spray and floodwaters will freeze, creating icy and dangerous conditions, including on the road itself,” the conservation authority said.
Last week, councillors voted to issue a request for proposals for an engineering consultant for Erie Shore Drive as they discussed the next steps for the road plagued by flooding and erosion.
The work will be done under the Drainage Act of Ontario, which provides a well-established and legislated process for projects involving municipal drains.
According to Director of Drainage, Asset and Waste Management Tim Dick, one of the benefits of the Drainage Act is that the consultant will be a third party.
“The whole idea of the Drainage Act is the expectation of the independent engineer and the lack of influence or leverage applied by the municipal councils. Council is to stay out of the process, let the engineer work,” explained Dick.
He explained this does not mean council or the constituent that may be involved down the line don’t have a say, but rather both parties can get a say.
According to Dick, the report will help narrow down the scope of what the solutions will cost and how the drainage system can be improved and maintained. The investigation would only be looking at solutions within the existing Burke Drainage Scheme and not focus on bringing in new solutions along the shoreline.
“What this report will tell us is, this is the direction we should be going that’s most cost-effective,” said Dick. “If we don’t authorize the report, we will never have that information and will continue to struggle with that entire area.”
Dick added while it’s difficult to predict any timelines at this point, there will be many opportunities for resident consultation along the way.
Back in March of 2020, “Phase 1” to stabilize the existing roadway and dike along Erie Shore Drive to mitigate the risk of dike failure was completed. This was done after a state of emergency was declared along the roadway, and a voluntary evacuation was issued.
According to Thomas Kelly, General Manager of Engineering and Infrastructure, the municipality has now reached the point where it must come up with a more sustainable solution.“We really need a long term plan on this,” said Kelly. “The solution we have out there is not a long-term plan.”
Administration will next be returning to council with results from the request for proposal, and if it’s approved, work can begin on the preliminary report.
Kelly said the next decision council would be asked to make is a decision on the request for proposal for selecting the engineering firm.
“They’ll come back with the preliminary report and give you some of the high-level cost estimates,” said Kelly. “Then the decision will be, do we want to go with the full-blown report. That’s where the costs will really be high. The costs that we’re talking about at this stage, really they’re manageable, and they give us good direction on the blueprint of what the direction we need to go in as a municipality is.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News