Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
After more than two months blocking traffic, the dike plug on Grand Valley Road is coming out early next week.
Grand Valley Road intersection with 18th Street North is the only gap in the city’s earthen dike system, and was plugged in early July in reaction to record-setting rainfall in the area’s potential to raise the Assiniboine River enough to hit the dike.
The plug remained in place months after water levels along Brandon’s stretch of the river subsided out of concern the dam upstream in Rivers might give out. Made up of clay piled across Grand Valley Road, the dike plug requires at least 20 hours to install, which is more time than it would take water from Rivers to hit the city.
On Thursday, updated hydrological forecast data provided by the province suggested the volume of water in the Rivers reservoir is now at a level the city would be able to manage in the event the Rivers dam were to fail.
The dike plug’s impending removal comes as good news to those located to its immediate west, including Turtle Crossing Campground, RV Park and Events Centre owner Mark Kovatch, whose customers will soon have a much smoother drive to and from Brandon.
The trip now either involves driving north up one of a few gravel roads or taking a seven-kilometre drive out of the way heading west to where Grand Valley Road meets the Trans-Canada Highway.
"It’s cost us business and inconvenienced our customers, absolutely," Kovatch said.
"Nothing I say is going to make a difference," he added. "If the province were to pay for (a permanent fix) I’m sure (the city would) go for it, but the city budget is skimpy as it is, so unless the province is going to pay for it I can’t see them doing anything."
Kovatch added that a more permanent solution like building up Grand Valley Road over the course of a block or so might be cost-prohibitive for the city to take on by themselves, particularly since the majority of people affected by the dike plug reside in the RM of Cornwallis.
While he’s on the same page when it comes to the cost of a permanent fix being too great a burden for the city to take on, Brandon Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) clarified that Cornwallis residents "work in the city — this is their city. They’re our neighbours — we work together on everything."
Although investing in a permanent solution has come up in the past, he said it’s nothing Brandon City Council is currently considering, and likely won’t until such time as the province comes on board.
"This is that rare scenario where we don’t have any water around us but we have to keep it up," he said of ongoing concerns regarding the Rivers dam, which was hit by more water in late June than it was designed to handle.
"Just based purely on our river near us, that dike would have been down a long time ago … Up and down, it’s quick and easy — it is a good system, but the optics were different his year because our problem was a few hours away."
Last month, The Brandon Sun reported that RM of Cornwallis residents were frustrated by the dike plug’s long-term presence, which resulted in both longer drives to and from Brandon and the degradation of gravel roads that connect Grand Valley Road to the Trans-Canada Highway, as well as their vehicles.
In addition to announcing the dike plug’s impending removal, the City of Brandon issued a reminder for property owners impacted by the flood event to submit their Disaster Financial Assistance application directly to the provincial government, with more information available at 1-888-267-8298.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB
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