A group of property owners along a flood-plagued section of Chatham-Kent’s Erie Shore Drive have launched a lawsuit against the municipality.
As part of the Erie Shore Drive Property Owners Association (ESDPOA), more than 80 people are seeking damages from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent for ongoing costs relating to high-water issues.
In a press release issued last week, the association contends the municipality has failed to meet its obligations under Section 79 of the Drainage Act, causing members to have to bear the costs of repairing the shoreline for the “last several decades.”
As part of the legal action, homeowners are requesting that the shoreline protection be repaired.
According to a written statement from ESDPOA president Terra Cadeau, the dyke beneath Erie Shore Drive and other shoreline protection measures were built under the Drainage Act, which places an “obligation on the municipality to maintain both.”
Cadeau said, that because the municipality has failed to do this, property owners have had to spend “large sums of their own money” to pay the “astronomical” costs of protecting the shoreline.
Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff declined to comment, saying the matter is before the courts.
Bringing the application forward is a last option, the ESDPOA press release noted.
“We cannot and should not be forced to continue to pay for what Chatham-Kent and all those who benefit from the drainage works are legally required to pay for,” it reads.
Erie Shore Drive is an engineered structure that was built in 1914 to create 1,600 acres of prime farmland, with additional shoreline protection added in 1938.
Erie Shore residents have been buffeted by high water levels in recent times, leading to ongoing issues with flooding.
In the spring of 2020, the municipality declared an emergency on Erie Shore Drive and residents were ordered to leave their homes because of the danger.
The media release did not give a dollar amount of damages the property owners is seeking.
Because the issue is now before the courts, there will be no further comment from either the municipality or the property owners association on the matter.
Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice