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Rising costs have Wellesley residents worried about the impact of drain project

[From File]

Replacing part of the George Brenner Drain in Wellesley has some landowners who are part of that drainage system concerned about the increasing cost of the project and the uncertainties of its effectiveness.

Several residents came out to Wellesley council Oct. 20 to hear from Garth Noecker of K. Smart Associates Limited, the engineering firm in charge of the drain improvements. It’s been in the works since 2011.

“It was found over the years to be both undersized and shallow and it was becoming an increasing maintenance problem. And it was decided that the solution to this was essentially a newer, bigger and deeper drain at essentially the same location as the one that’s there now,” Noecker said.

It’s estimated at $130,760 to repair the drainage system which covers 132 acres. Landowners will be responsible for anywhere from $4,000 up to $29,000, as outlined in Noecker’s report. They will be eligible for up to one third off of that cost through the Drainage Act under the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs if the land is designated as agricultural, which they all are.

“Our costs went up quite substantially from our meeting and our proposed costs from four years ago when we had a general meeting. It’s making it harder and harder for everyone to swallow. Martin [Bauman] buying his property across from our place he’s spent extra money to systematically drain his property for leeway for this to go through,” said James Lichty of Lichty’s Fur Farm Ltd.

The Branch A drain was originally built in 1928. The request was made to improve the drain in 2011 due to excessive flooding on their properties and signed by all landowners along the drain route.

The tender for the project could be awarded this year, but construction likely wouldn’t begin until next year.

“It’s substantially larger tile, 450 millimetres whereas the old one was a 300 millimetre at the lower end, which goes from about one foot to a foot and a half in diameter. It’ll have about two times the capacity and on average a foot and a half deeper than the old drain,” Noecker said.

This portion of the drainage system covers the north of Lots 6 and 7, Concession 8 West and the south of Lots 7 and 8, Concession 9 West.

Doris and Heinz Hueftlein expressed their hesitation, but not opposition to the new drain, questioning why they should pay thousands of dollars when it might not work. Heinz noted his field gets flooded, but it’s not a big deal because it’s used for pasture.

“What kind of guarantee is there that this is going to work?” asked Doris Hueftlein.

Noecker said there’s no guarantee, only the fact they’ve been doing this for a long time. He says the old drain worked, it just isn’t big enough or deep enough anymore. He added they’ve addressed those issues with their proposed design.

“If his field doesn’t dry up then it’s $140,000 which went down the drain with the tile,” Heinz said.

Noecker said he’s “fairly confident” it will work.

Council adopted the report after discussion from the affected landowners. A Court of Revisions meeting will be held at the council chambers on Nov. 17 at 6:15 p.m. Councillors Carl Smit, Shelley Wagner, and Herb Neher were appointed to sit on the court. The court is part of the Drainage Act and allows landowners the opportunity to challenge their drainage assessments – an area of contention for some.

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