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Drainage Meeting

We, that is, Cindy Miles, Frank Pullen, Mark Lucio and myself attended a Shrewsbury Drainage meeting yesterday with Tim Dick Drainage Superintendent(water) and Miguel Pelletier, Infrastructure and engineering(roads). Councillors Karen Herman and Trevor Thompson.

Leading up to the meeting there had been email communications, included below, that referenced the Ontario Drainage Act to be included within this short 1 hour meeting.
Based on the ongoing nature of drainage problems in Shrewsbury, those being poor stormwater management, failing and inadequate roadside drainage infrastructure and the daming of natural drainage by the roads and elevated properties, It was necessary to provide perspective and specific responsibility to the problems.
The meeting began with the reading of the findings of a 2008 drainage tribunal hearing regarding Nelles Drain.
The purpose of this was to clearly outline what we are referring to when we discuss problems with drainage (Roads Dept.), and most importantly, what we are not talking about (Creeks and Streams).

To keep the conversation focused, I read the findings as presented by Municipal Drainage Engineer, Ed Dries, DFO Fish and Habitat Biologist Dana Boyter and LTVCA Resource Technician Valerie Towsley.
"Mr Dries proved to the tribunal that excavating in the drain to what we accept as the best possible grade line would remove about a foot of silt and material and produce only a slight benefit that would not allow the water to drain away. The reason the water would not drain away was the influence that the lake levels have on the drain.
"Digging deeper into the silty materials in the lower parts of the Nelles Drain as proposed by the Appealants, will not solve their drainage issues.
Based on these findings, we conclude that it is NOT SCIENTIFICALLY PRACTICABLE  to repair or improve the Nelles Drain through Shrewsbury"

The 2008 hearing also concluded that it is NOT LEGALLY POSSIBLE  to improve the Nelles Drain through Shrewsbury.
DFO Biologist Dana Boyter, "provided unequivocal evidence that the DFO would not allow maintaince work on the Nelles Drain that would result in loss of fish habitat"
LTVCA resource Technician, Valerie, Towsley, "made it clear that the LTVCA would not approve maintaince works within these parts of the Nelles Drain because of the environmental sensitivity of the area"


Without going into too many details of the meeting

The Drainage Superintendant Tim Dick stated that:
-the Drainage Act is applicable when water is artifically collected
-when someone changes drainage it is the legal responsibility of that person(or corporation)
-roadside culverts and drainage ditches are within the jurisdiction if the municipality
-roadside drainage costs are calculated using "Lifecycle Stormwater Management"
- In C.K. roadaide drainage accounts for $1,500,000/ year
- the Kent Center budget for roadside drainage is 15,000/year

With the understanding that Shrewsbury will eventually require a "Formalized storm drain system" that will provide adequate stormwater and meltwater flow, councillors Karen Herman, and Trevor Thompson will consider our drainage problems when the municipality seeks federal infrastructure funding.
Tim Dick stated that the Dyke Road upgrade would likely have a higher priority.

In the meantime Miguel Pelletier from infrastructure and engineering has committed to "walk through" Shrewsbury to identify problem areas, (some of which are highlighted below) and repair them. 
This is the "low hanging fruit" which falls squarely within the responsibility if the CK Roads Dept.

We all committed to a set of followup meetings to assess progress.

My feelings about the meeting are that we were well represented.
When Tim Dick suggested that we need more (expensive) Study, and, we dont have the budget Cindy Miles quickly stated that it was just another excuse for inaction. 
Mark Lucio stated that out of the annual roadside drainage budgets for Kent Center, Shrewsbury got little if any improvement. 
Frank Pullen, kept it real by stating we don't have to do everything tomorrow, but improvements must begin now. 50 years of neglect, (18 by this municipality ) are no excuse to put things off. 
Councillor Karen Herman felt positive about this meeting and stated that the issues were clearly represented and that responsibility for existing failures, falls squarely on the Roads Department.

We can discuss this further at our January meeting


First email to Councillors and Drainage and Roads dept admin.

"I am resending this to all to include Frank Pullen's current email address,

I would request to be appraised of any drainage meetings regarding Shrewsbury and Raglan. I bring some context to the issues as well as knowledge of specific problem areas, that may be addressed.

I would also like for us to remain clear that we are referring to the roads department when dealing with specific drainage issues. Our marshes serve to buffer, not hinder water flow, as has been claimed by some. Non functional road drainage has been the major cause of long term property flooding, and not as has been claimed that Shrewsbury is "in a swamp".

A brief visual survey from Erieau, confirms that Shrewsbury was planned by Simcoe, on the High Ground of the North shore of Rondeau Bay.

In our discussions surrounding drainage, Frank Pullen reminded me of the 18th century urban European practice of draining properties to the rear, furthest from the roads. The Grid Plan of Shrewsbury designed by Simcoe and laid out by Abraham Iredell reflected an ideal English Town, complete with North-South drainage, along the road allowances within the 5 acre blocks.

Today some remnants remain, like the channel between Wellington and Talbot Streets. While some road allowances remain in public ownership, others are private. It's unfortunate that this original infrastructure wasn't better utilized, or perhaps not understood.

That being said, there are some properties that simply aren't draining, because either the existing drainage has failed or is inadequate, or because the road culverts in our well planned grid, are impeding peak water flow.

Although it has been stated that Road side Drains are solely for the road, it is also true that unplanned culverts impede water flow and cause property damage.

With this context, and scope, I look forward to our discussions.

Ken Bell"


Then, this email appeared on Friday

Hi Karen:

Here are the links we use for accessing the Drainage Act as well as some Drainage Fact Sheets (sort of the Coles Notes version). The Act can be downloaded into a pdf and saved or printed. The first link is the actual Act and the second link is to the OMAFRA webpage where the helpful fact sheets are located. Please let me know if you are looking for something other than this. Feel free to share this whomever you feel may find benefit as these are public documents anyone can google on-line.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Nancy van den Boorn | Executive Assistant | Infrastructure and Engineering Services | Municipality of Chatham-Kent |315 King St. W., PO Box 640, Chatham, ON N7M 5K8 |T -519.360.1998, ext. 3901 | F -519.436.3240 |



Here is my reply:

"...Who keeps trying to confuse this issue with the Ontario Drainage Act?

We are Residential. The problems in Shrewsbury are not the result of the creeks and drains.

The drainage problems in Shrewsbury are from Blocked and non functioning road culverts that lead to those drains.

Like the NW corner of Prince and Adelaide where the outlet is completely blocked and has been for many, many years.

- Failed Culvert at the head of Wolfe, hastily pushed back in place rather than properly secured.

-Random vertical Placement of culverts and blocked road drains along Princess and many other streets.

-Blocked Culvert at the end of Wellington St.

-Blocked Culvert on Metcalfe between William and Adelaide.

-Blocked culverts along South William St.

These are the issues that lead to failing septic tanks and property damage.

They have nothing to do with the provincial drainage act, or the water flow from Georgie Creek, Willow Creek, Nellis Drain, Stirling Drain or the Taylor Drain.

Every single one of these issues is directly attributable to neglect by Chatham-Kent, not the Province.

We made this abundantly clear at the last two Shrewsbury Community Association meetings, where councillors were in attendance

I don't expect to waste my time on Monday talking about Provincial Jurisdictions. We're there to represent the property owners of Shrewsbury.

We do expect representatives of the roads Department to be there, with a map..."