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Published on Monday, May 29, 2017

Council gets report on flood damage

Plan to deal with worst flooding in nearly a century

Council gets report on flood damage
Coronation Park
Flooding and waves eroding the shoreline closed several Oakville waterfront parks over the May 22 holiday weekend including Coronation Park, Bronte Fisherman's Wharf and outer Bronte Harbour.Coronation Park, pictured, is under several inches of water, trees now have life rings attached. — Graham Paine/Metroland
By Nathan Howes, Oakville Beaver

Oakville is experiencing its worst flooding since 1918, leaving the Town scrambling for a plan to deal with it.

That plan was floated — and approved — by Council Monday, May 29 as a multi-department staff team meets regularly to plan and implement flood mitigation priorities and measures.

Lakefront parks, piers and harbours are inspected twice each day and appropriate barriers are in place to ensure public safety.

A number of lakefront parks and trails have restricted access due to erosion and pedestrian safety.

The report stated a coastal engineer has undertaken a brief review of the shoreline along the lakefront, but until the high water levels recede, a full investigation and damage assessment cannot be completed.

From March 1 to May 28, Oakville has seen 267 mm of rainfall, of which, 130 mm fell between April 20 and May 28, according to Environment Canada.

This total is almost double the normal amount of rainfall over the same period, and combined with higher lake levels, it’s created the “perfect storm,” Colleen Bell, Community Services Commissioner, told Council.

“Environment Canada has highlighted this is the worst flooding in Oakville since 1918 and we’re going to be in a response mode for the foreseeable future,” said Bell, noting the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board is predicting Lake Ontario levels to peak in mid-June.

Based on current projections, the Town will be able to begin recovery in late August, at the earliest, but it could be as late as October, Bell said.

“We’re hopeful the recovery phase will begin later this summer, but as I said, it’s really going to be up in the air in terms of where we’re going to land,” said Bell.

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Staff will report to Council on the estimated costs associated with flood management, recovery and restoration once lake levels have receded. The extent of the damage and costs won’t be known for some time, likely the fall.

Because much of the infrastructure is currently submerged, Bell said it’s difficult to get a handle on the damage.

“One of the challenges we’re having is we know there is damage to shorelines, we anticipate, with some certainty, there is probably damage to marina infrastructure. There certainly is ongoing damage being done to our parkland and trails,” said Bell.

Finance staff are on the multi-department team and all flood-related costs are being tracked to provide Council an accurate tally.

According to the staff report, $38,000 has been spent on flood mitigation to date, but that will increase once shoreline damage is fully assessed.

Once staff has the final flood cost figures, additional reports will to Council, which is receiving regular email updates and briefings.

Staff will also advise the provincial government that it may seek Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) funding.

Public updates are issued through news releases, the Town website and social media.

The Town is also in close contact with yacht and boat clubs at the two harbours and will continue to provide information and offer assistance.

Special events

Town staff are beginning to contact event organizers for possible affected events in July and August to develop contingency plans.

As a result of rising lake levels and ongoing flooding at Coronation Park, the Children’s Festival has been moved to the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre (QEPCCC) Sunday, July 9.

The move will not impact the festival’s entertainment lineup, designed to promote arts and culture to children and families.

Canada Day celebrations will remain in Bronte Heritage Park, as staff is working with the Bronte Business Improvement Association (BIA) to make adjustments to activities that may be impacted by further flooding or ponding water.

Wet conditions in Coronation Park, Bronte Heritage Park, Lions Valley Park and Gairloch Gardens have impacted other permitted events such as wedding photo shoots and picnics.

Permitting and event staff are working with permit holders to reschedule or relocate their events for event dates through June 30.

New permit requests for affected parks are not being accepted at this time and staff are working with residents to find alternate locations for their events, if possible.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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