Town council approves basement flooding protection subsidy program

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

Town council has approved a new basement flooding protection subsidy program, but not all residents are impressed by it.

Under the new program, the town will provide a downspout disconnection service to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system free of charge. The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the Amherstburg wastewater collection system to disconnect foundation drains from the sanitary sewer for up to 50 per cent of the cost, to a maximum of $1,000.

The town of Amherstburg has also committed to providing a financial subsidy to residents on the town’s wastewater system for installing backwater valve devices on the internal sanitary plumbing system in existing homes for up to 100 per cent of cost to a maximum of $1,000.

The town will also provide a financial subsidy to residents on the wastewater collection system to install a sump pump overflow to discharge outside to the surface for existing sump pumps. That also can cover up to 100 per cent of the cost to a maximum of $300.

Administration was also directed to develop a program for the mandatory disconnection of downspouts and improper cross connections and report back to council.

. The program is retroactive to Aug. 28, the day McGregor was pounded as part of a heavy rain storm that hit Windsor-Essex County.

McGregor resident Tom Welsh, who has been the victim of multiple floods, didn’t believe $1,000 was enough, saying “this is a band-aid, in my opinion. You are stating you are going to help us, but we are still going to have to fork out $2-3,000.”

Welsh believed the residents should be able to apply for total funding of costs incurred.

Director of engineering and public works Antonietta Giofu said the town’s program is similar to a program offered in Windsor, and that comparisons were made to other local municipalities as well. The public works department also called plumbers in the area and the estimates were similar as well.

CAO John Miceli said that it’s a voluntary program and that the plan is to ask for funding requests during budget time, if needed, to ensure the flooding issues are addressed.

“Members of the community have to apply for the subsidy,” Miceli pointed out.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted more information about water coming from other municipalities and what the entire region is doing to address the flooding problems. He believed a report was necessary on what all municipalities are working towards.

Fryer also suggested better infrastructure to deal with the issue once and for all, and not yearly subsidy programs.

“We’ve got to start taking care of the hamlet of McGregor,” he said.

Giofu countered that studies into the area have shown that major issues in the McGregor area are on private property but the town is willing to work with residents.

Councillor Leo Meloche, a McGregor resident himself, said there are subdivisions in McGregor with small lots and that water is often just drained to neighbouring yards during storms.

“Planning has to address the issue of elevations before we get to the issue of disconnections,” said Meloche, who also expressed concerns about the mandatory disconnections of downspouts.

Welsh reiterated what he and fellow neighbours believe, and that is not enough money is spent in areas like McGregor as opposed to the “core” of Amherstburg.

“I see it as a band-aid. It’s frustrating,” he said of the program. “Something has to be done. I’m not going to finish my downstairs ever again.”

Councillor Jason Lavigne said money was spent by the current council to fix flooding in the urban part of Amherstburg due to a design flaw with a previous project. He said there are no design flaws in McGregor and that Mother Nature “wreaked havoc” with heavy rain.

“To suggest we are doing more for the core than the county, I blatantly disagree with that,” said Lavigne. “I don’t believe it’s neglect. All we can do is offer a subsidy program. We hear you. It might not be enough. We are doing everything we can and we’ll do more if we can.”

“My whole community thinks this way,” Welsh responded. “We get nothing. We pay more taxes than some people on Boblo.”

Miceli indicated more could be done on the infrastructure front.

“What my team is doing is trying to increase design standards for the town. We are not going to wait,” he said. “We want to make sure we have the highest standards in the region.”

The CAO added that while he won’t guarantee that will eliminate flooding, “we are going to take the highest standards to prevent it.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said after the meeting that numbers contained in the program “seem to compare with actual costs” and called it “a good starting point for the town.” He said the town wants to work with individual residents to resolve flooding issues and those requests could come immediately.

“I fully expect residents will contact public works and they will get on it as soon as they can,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor added the new program “may not fix the problems but we have to look at mitigating them as best we can.”

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