GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Rockwood residents and councillors are uneasy over possible flooding issues surrounding an apartment proposal near the Eramosa River.
A developer is proposing a low rise building of up to 30 rental units at 197 Main St. S. in Rockwood, near Valley Road.
This will be on the same land as an existing 12-unit apartment and there is a plan for a shared 67 space parking lot to serve both buildings.
At Guelph/Eramosa’s public meeting on Monday, Mikaela Sword, a planner with consultant for the developer explained the site features a floodway, flood fringe and a slope hazard but the building only partially encroaches on the slope hazard.
She said the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) reviewed a study on the slope and declared it to be stable and safe to build on.
Some parking is proposed in the floodway area, which the GRCA has said there can be no change to the grading but they do support formalizing the parking lot.
“This would represent a unique opportunity to make use of some undeveloped land within the urban centre of Rockwood that can be serviced by municipal infrastructure that’s already in place,” Sword said.
The GRCA made no comments in relation to possible flooding but nearby residents weren’t so sure.
Mike Yurek, who lives next to this development, said flood control has always been a problem in this area.
“During heavy rain, the catch basins in front of our property often reach capacity and flood the road and the front of our yard,” Yurek explained.
“The owner has the apartment building lane paved between us, the rainwater often runs under our home and causes water damage. It has nowhere to go, if the new parking area gets paved where will the water run-off go?”
Lisa Logan-Dayman, who lives uphill from the site on Main Street, said her backyard erodes away all the time and her house too has flooding problems.
“If they’re having apartments on the bottom floor, those people are going to have wet floors all the time,” Logan-Dayman said.
Sword specified there is no plan to build a basement beyond what would be required for servicing.
Councillor Corey Woods called this development “crazy” for suggesting to build so close to a floodway.
He brought up Minto having to divert the Maitland River around Harriston to deal with flooding issues and the millions it may cost in the long-run.
“You wonder, why didn’t someone 50 years ago say, up in Minto or Harriston, ‘maybe we shouldn’t build in the floodplain,’” Woods said.
“Why would you ever contemplate, in 2021, building in a floodplain?”
He acknowledged that the building itself is not in the flooding zone but the driveways are and that’s a problem in his view.
“This is the Eramosa River, we’re not talking a little swamp, a little creek ... when it floods it’s going to flood,” Woods said.
“When this floods, how do you rescue those 100 people out of that property when both entrances are blocked. I don’t even know why this proposal is coming to us to be honest, I think this proposal is just insane.”
Meagan Ferris, planner with the County of Wellington, said more fulsome answers about dealing with flooding and stormwater management will come at the site plan meeting but noted this development is within the GRCA mandate.
“They are the experts when it comes to flooding and flooding hazards and those particular issues,” Ferris said, adding the GRCA is satisfied an emergency access point beside the existing building can provide a safe entrance and exit.
Councillor Bruce Dickieson said everything seemed to be in order from the GRCA's view and the proposed development makes sense for the area.
No decisions were made and this proposal will come back for another public meeting during the site plan approval process.
Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com