MORRIS-TURNBERRY – Trevor Hallam, CAO of Morris-Turnberry, provided a report to council on July 20, telling them the final costs associated with the municipal drain maintenance for the municipality in 2020.
Municipal drain maintenance in 2020 cost $149,139.99 in 2020. Final costs have been calculated, and fees assessed to landowners as authorized and prescribed by the relevant engineer’s reports and assessment schedules.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs describes what municipal drains are on their website, saying, “municipal drains have been a fixture of rural Ontario’s infrastructure since the 1800s. Most municipal drains were constructed to improve the drainage of agricultural land by serving as the discharge point for private agricultural tile drainage systems.
“However, they also remove excess water collected by roadside ditches, residential lots, churches, schools, industrial lands, commercial lands, and any other properties in rural areas. They are a vital component of the local infrastructure. Without them, many areas of the province would be subjected to regular flooding, reduced production from agricultural land, and increased public health risks,” the website went on to say.
Municipal drains are created under the authority of the Drainage Act. There are three key elements of a municipal drain:
Community Project – Landowners who need to solve a drainage problem may submit a prescribed petition under the Drainage Act to their local municipality, requesting the establishment of a municipal drain. If specific criteria are met, the municipality appoints an engineer who prepares a report, identifying the proposed solution to the problem and how the costs will be shared. There are various meetings where landowners in the watershed of the municipal drain can voice their desires and concerns. There are also several appeal stages where they can express their objections. So, the result of the process is a “communally accepted” project.
Legal Existence – After all appeals have been heard and dealt with, the municipality passes a bylaw, adopting the engineer’s report. The municipality then has the authority and the responsibility to construct the project. The cost of the work is assessed to the lands in the watershed in the same ratios as contained within the engineer’s report. So, for a ditch or a pipe to be a municipal drain, there must be a bylaw adopting an engineer’s report.
Municipal Infrastructure – Once a municipal drain has been constructed under the authority of a bylaw, it becomes part of that municipality’s infrastructure.
The local municipality, through its drainage superintendent, is responsible for repairing and maintaining the municipal drain. In certain circumstances, the municipality can be held liable for damages for not maintaining these drains.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times