COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Garth Hoy sprays to combat mould in his basement in the city's southeast. Hoy has been frustrated for weeks by water seeping into the basement of his Patricia Avenue home, which he believes is caused by the city pumping water from a retention pond near Crocus Plains high school to nearby land.
Local property owner Garth Hoy said he is "alarmed" that the City of Brandon has not been issued a licence by the province for the drainage work being conducted near his property.
Since April, Hoy’s RM of Cornwallis home has flooded three times, which he believes is due to the city pumping water from a retention pond in Brandon’s southeast corner.
"I believe it’s all from that pumping, they’ve caused us a problem with the water table level," he said.
Last month, Hoy sent an official notice through his lawyers to the City of Brandon, claiming the city has failed to provide adequate protection. Hoy said the problems began in 2011, when the city began pumping water from the retention pond. That is when the Hoys had their first flood, costing about $10,000 to renovate.
They had to gut the basement again this spring, and just last week had pumps going "24/7" to get water out.
Hoy said the purpose of the letter was to prompt some action, but as of Monday, he had not heard anything from the city or its engineering department.
"It just makes you so mad because everybody’s tossing it aside thinking it’s gonna go away," he said. "It’s just disheartening."
A spokesperson with Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship said the department is still waiting for the city to provide the necessary technical information, and as a result the province has not given the city a licence to undertake the pumping occurring at this location.
"The province expects the city to provide that information shortly, but if it is not able to do so the province will have to take other steps to address the complaints of the neighbouring land owner," according to the spokesperson.
The province wouldn’t provide details on what those "other steps" would be.
On Monday, Hoy was spraying for mould in his basement for the third time this season, and keeping a close eye on the water level in the well. When the city stops pumping, the water level goes down.
"Once it gets above 20 inches (from ground level), that’s when I get water in the basement," he said, adding as of yesterday it was sitting around 24 inches.
When you add rain to the equation, the problem gets even worse, Hoy said.
"With the saturation that they’ve caused here, what ends up happening is when it begins to rain … the rain has got nowhere to go because the ground is so saturated." Hoy said. "What I really believe, before they started pumping, the land was adequate as far as drainage."
Last month, the RM of Cornwallis sent written communication to the City of Brandon to formally voice its concerns regarding southeast Brandon drainage.
RM of Cornwallis Reeve Reg Atkinson said it was surprising to hear the city does not have a licence for the work.
"Garth has got a problem out there, there’s no question," Atkinson said. "I think that the city has got a problem too because it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It needs to be dealt with on more of a long-term approach."
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. 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 eventually winds up in the RM of Cornwallis.
The city’s director of engineering, Patrick Pulak, said they are working with a consultant to develop a plan. The current piping in the area is routed around a private property east of First Street, as they did not come to an agreement previously. But Pulak says now that landowner is willing to work with them to develop a plan, to possibly let the water flow through that property rather than being pumped up to Patricia Avenue.
The other challenge — 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.
Pulak also addressed the claim that the city does not have a licence for the work.
"What this is, is short-term," he said. "We’ve never submitted a long-term plan for this drainage, and it’s always been our understanding that any long-term solution had to be licensed, was always our interpretation of the requirements."
Pulak said this is a seasonal issue, and they are trying to find a long-term solution.
As Hoy is a resident of the RM of Cornwallis, Pulak said the city plans to work alongside Reeve Atkinson on the issue.
"If (Atkinson) wants to arrange a meeting between ourselves and Mr. Hoy, I’m certainly willing to sit down with him and listen to what his issues are, and certainly explain our philosophy and he can explain his issues and hopefully we can come to a satisfactory solution," Pulak said.
» Twitter: @jillianaustin
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 3, 2014