The average residential property owner is looking at a bill for about $75 if Woolwich goes ahead with repairs to a drain that runs under a portion of St. Jacobs.
The township has identified 307 properties in the catchment area of what’s known as municipal drain #10. Each is deemed to benefit from work on the drain, and will share in the costs of the $200,000 project based on assessment.
For residential properties, that could range from $10 to about $440, with an average impact of $75, said Jared Puppe, the townships acting manager of engineering. Commercial and industrial properties face higher, in some cases much higher costs.
Costs were the biggest issue at a public meeting last week in St. Jacobs, where there was a full house.
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“People were upset about the idea that there was any cost,” said Puppe, noting many people felt this was a township responsibility.
Under the provincial Drainage Act, the costs are shared among benefitting properties, he explained, noting staff deems the act the best way to deal with the repair costs.
Getting the work done is “100 per cent our responsibility,” he added.
Dating back to 1953, the drain continues to serve its purpose, though much of it has been enclosed underground since that time, said Puppe. Simply closing it down and installing storm sewers isn’t an option given the changes that have evolved over more than 60 years.
Most of the planned work, if approved, will take place in the underground portion of the drain from about Princess Street and Queensway Drive to King Street, plus some maintenance on the open ditch portion east of Water Street.
The bulk of the estimated $200,000 cost will come from the township and the most heavily-assessed property in the catchment area, Home Hardware, each looking at a bill of about $60,000. The rest of the cost will be shared among just over 300 properties.
Both the plan and the costing are still in the draft stage, with a final report likely to appear in September, with the decision to go ahead or not to be made by township council.
Property owners unhappy with the situation will have an opportunity to discuss the issue at a council meeting. If the project is approved, council acts as an appeal body, with later recourse to the provincial drainage tribunal, Puppe explained.