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Woolwich to move ahead with planning for rebuild of Breslau drain

The average Breslau homeowner is facing a bill of $2,000 to $5,000 as Woolwich moves ahead with plans to repair the municipal drain that runs through the north and east sides of the village.

If the project goes ahead, all of the properties in the 600-acre catchment area will be assessed a scaled portion of the estimated $2.1 million cost. The township itself will be responsible for about half the cost, with development properties on the hook for almost a third. Residential properties make up about an eighth, with costs to be assessed based on the likes of lot size.

Following a preliminary report December 17, councillors agreed to move ahead with a full report that will provide more details about costs, assessments and the scale of the work.

Known as Breslau Municipal Drain No. 1, the drain dates back to 1953 and hasn’t been well maintained in the intervening decades. Much of it is falling into disrepair, and alterations over the years, including the development of the Elroy Acres subdivision in the 1960s, have made parts of it inaccessible.

The township’s investigation into the state of the drain stems from petitions it received from property owners in the drainage area. That forced some action, including the hiring last November of K. Smart Associates to do a preliminary report, the findings of which were discussed December 10.

The engineering firm’s Joel Miller said extensive consultations were carried out with property owners, with many reporting flooding or water concerns, reflecting the poor state of the drainage system.

“Over the years sections of the drain (both ditch and tile portions) have been relocated or modified to accommodate commercial and residential development in multiple locations. At present, portions of the drain cannot be properly accessed for maintenance. Broken tiles, root intrusion and pipe flushing are issues that require ongoing maintenance by the drainage superintendent,” he said in the report.

He noted the assessment for repairs would be levied on all properties in the catchment area, including ones where there are no apparent drainage issues.

The drain’s watershed is quite large, Miller noted, encompassing 605 acres. The work proposed in his preliminary report includes 920 metres of open ditch work and 1,890m of new storm pipe covering a large swath of area east of Woolwich Street.

The estimated assessment range for commercial properties varies from $2,500 to $13,000 per property. Estimated assessments for development properties range from $20,000 to $400,000 per property. The majority of residential properties have estimated assessment amounts in the range of $2,000 to $5,000, his report notes.

While the costs have raised concerns from some residents, many have called for the work to be done given the ongoing flooding of properties, particularly in the low-lying areas of the Elroy Acres subdivision.

Addressing councillors last week, Bill Southern, who owns four properties in Breslau, called for the township to go ahead with the work given current drainage woes.

“There’s no question in my mind that there’s an issue in the village, the subdivision,” he said.

John Roes, president of Breslau Properties, one of the future development sites facing elevated costs, welcomed the work.

“It will prove to be a solution for all parties, going forward,” he said, adding that his company is doing its own engineering work on the site, including hydrogeology, and is willing to share the data with the township.

In response to a question from another resident, director of infrastructure services Jared Puppe said work on the drain would not overlap or impeded any future extension of sanitary sewers to the Elroy Acres subdivision. The drain is a pressing issue, he added, while the timing of municipal services is up in the air; when it explored installing services a decade ago, the township met with resistance from residents due to the cost, deciding to leave any revival of the idea up to the residents there.

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