Most of the time, the City of Brandon and RMs of Cornwallis and Elton tend to play nice with each other and make honest attempts to be civil and neighbourly.
This fact is borne out by the longstanding partnership between the three municipalities under the umbrella group called the Brandon & Area Planning District.
The point of this organization, is to “provide for an increased level of co-ordination and co-operation among the participating municipalities, primarily with regard to land use and land development issues,” according to its website.
But a couple of incidents in recent months have cast Brandon as a brazenly bad neighbour when it comes to water issues between the city and Cornwallis residents.
Last month, Cornwallis resident Garth Hoy told the Sun he was being flooded out by city crews who were pumping water from a retention pond near Crocus Plains high school to land nearby his boarding kennel.
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 further south to RM of Cornwallis land.
The couple bought the property eight years ago, and in 2011 they experienced their first flooded basement, which Hoy believes is directly linked to water being pumped from the retention pond. That year he says it cost him $9,000 to $11,000 to redo the basement.
The city then began pumping during the first week of April this year. Since then, Hoy says his home has flooded three times.
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 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.
The city’s director of engineering, Patrick Pulak, suggests they are working with a consultant to develop a long-term plan to address the drainage issue, and said the city doesn’t need a licence to drain the retention pond unless it’s part of a long-term solution — even though the province seems to indicate that it does.
As this has been a recurring problem since 2011, it’s difficult not to fault the city for not coming up with a long-term solution to this flooding somewhat sooner.
We also think it’s questionable why the city would think it’s OK to drain water into Cornwallis without properly consulting the neighbouring municipality beforehand or addressing concerns raised by their neighbour. The situation has prompted the RM of Cornwallis to formally ask to be kept informed of how the city deals with drainage in the area.
This isn’t the first time that some Brandon plans have riled the RM of Cornwallis. Last July, the Cornwallis administration said it was never approached by the city before it decided to build a dike along Highway 110, following a Brandon Sun story that outlined a $24-million diking plan.
As it later turned out, early plans for dikes along Highway 110 had been quietly deleted from the city’s $22-million flood mitigation plans because there wasn’t enough money budgeted.
Eventually, the city held an information session for residents in the RMs of Cornwallis and Whitehead whose homes might have been affected by ongoing dike work.
As we noted above, over the years our local municipal governments have shown they can work pretty well together when they want to. However, these recent issues seem to be exceptions to the rule.
Nevertheless, it seems to us that even if the city is in the right when it comes to drainage licence requirements or diking plans, it should be common courtesy to keep neighbouring municipalities in the loop — before the matter becomes a potential problem, not after.