A resident living in the Rural Municipality of Cornwallis is considering legal action against the City of Brandon, as he deals with a flooded basement for the second time in four years.
Garth Hoy lives near the southeast corner of Brandon, and says water being pumped from a retention pond near Crocus Plains high school to nearby land is having a detrimental effect on his property.
"It’s hard to handle," Hoy said. "Every year, you just don’t know what’s going to happen, what the cost is going to be."
Hoy runs Golden Acres Boarding Kennels along with his wife, Shelley Hoy. The couple bought the property eight years ago. In 2011, they experienced their first flooded basement, which Hoy believes is directly linked to water being pumped from the retention pond.
"In 2011, it was probably $9,000 to $11,000 to redo the basement," he said. "Emergency measures came up with $4,000, but this year I’m on my own. Probably up to by the time we finish, we’ll be up to $8,000 or $9,000 again."
The city began pumping this spring during the first week of April, and Hoy has been keeping a close eye on his well water level. In early April, the water was recorded at seven feet below ground level, and has continued to rise.
The Hoys began pumping from their basement April 24, and were trying to keep up with the water. Last week, the water in the well was two feet from ground level, and despite their best efforts, the basement began to flood.
It has been gutted once again.
"We can’t keep on spending this kind of money, so we’re just going to stop and not do anything with the basement at all until we figure out what’s going on," he said.
Hoy, 66, said the recurring problems are disheartening, as he was considering retirement in the near future.
"We put a lot of money into the home, and the property and the business," he said. "We were thinking of selling but what’s ended up happening, and the real estate people told us, we’re losing value every day because of the cost of this … so how can you retire without correcting this problem?"
Hoy’s lawyer is drawing up a letter of intent for the city, and then he says they will decide if they will pursue legal action, such as getting an injunction to stop the water flow.
Hoy is not alone in his concerns. Neighbours in the area are dealing with similar issues, and the RM of Cornwallis recently passed a resolution to send written communication to the City of Brandon to formally voice its concerns regarding southeast Brandon drainage.
"Our concern there is as the city keeps developing, that water that keeps going east, is there going to be enough capacity for it to flow?" Reeve Reg Atkinson asked. "If it doesn’t then it ends up flooding people."
Atkinson said the RM of Cornwallis is also asking to be kept informed of how the city is dealing with drainage in the area.
"We just wanted something on the record to officially say that we just want it monitored very closely and make sure whatever happens doesn’t cause a lot of long-term problems," he said. "It’s an issue, there’s no question, that has to be dealt with somehow."
The retention pond located south of Crocus Plains was designed for all the drainage from the development on the west side of First Street, as it does not have a natural outlet, according to the city’s director of engineering, Patrick Pulak.
Water is being pumped from the pond south to Patricia Avenue and over to the east, which is the ditch across from Hoy’s property. The water then continues east, and then further south to RM of Cornwallis land.
Pulak said the city has been working on this "fairly complicated issue" for the past few years.
"The natural drainage for that actually heads east and it goes through a property that’s owned by another person, not city-owned," Pulak said.
The other challenge are the area’s white lady’s-slipper flowers, which are a protected species. Pulak said the city is working with Manitoba Conservation to address that aspect.
"Whenever you’re draining water, you always have to work with Manitoba Conservation through Water Stewardship to ensure that you’re meeting all their requirements," he said. "We’ve faced some fairly large challenges in addressing all those issues that have to do with it going east."
Pulak said he has had some discussions with the RM of Cornwallis and said the City of Brandon will "most certainly" be working with the residents who have complaints about the system.
"Part of the requirements of Water Stewardship is that we have to work with our neighbours whenever we’re dealing with drainage, (when) we go from our area to their area."
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