The first two readings of a bylaw which will allow work to proceed for the Mill Creek Municipal Drain took place at a special council meeting on May 3, 2022.
Council accepted the Robinson Consultants Inc. engineering report, which included amendments to the project, which is estimated to cost $2.3 million. The amendments address the concerns expressed by owners of smaller residential lots affected by the drainage construction and ongoing maintenance.
At a public meeting which took place on March 9, 2022 at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre, it was recommended that the engineering company reconsider a 25-metre right-of-way allowance for future maintenance of the drain, in particular as it related to smaller residential lots. In addition, with respect for smaller residential lots, the 50-metre right-of-way for construction related to the upcoming work was to be reconsidered. At that meeting, the engineers and Eric Leroux, municipal drainage superintendent, acknowledged that for farmland, the right-of-way would not be as significant as for those with smaller residential lots.
Reduced “Working Space” for residential lots less than two hectares in size
At its special meeting on May 3, council received changes and amendments from the engineers. One change can be summed up as follows: Where the “Working Space” affects smaller lots, less than two hectares in size, the construction working space has been reduced to 8 metres, from the usual designated Work Space of 50 metres from the top of the bank. For drain maintenance purposes, the working space has been reduced to five metres. It is important to note that the drain report includes the proviso that the “Working Space” be kept free of permanent obstructions including (but not limited to), plantings (trees), nonremovable fences, structures and/or other permanent landscaping features.
The issue of working space as it applies for smaller lots was addressed (for both construction and maintenance), in that Section 10 was removed and replaced as follows:
As per S.63(1) of the Ontario Drainage Act, R.S.O. 1990 (provided below) a “Working Space” must be available for the purpose of construction and future maintenance.
63 (1) The contractor and the contractor’s assistants when engaged in the construction, maintenance, improvement or repair of a drainage works may, with their equipment, enter upon whatever lands are necessary to complete the work within the working space designated
in the engineer’s report. R.S.O. 1990, c. D.17, s. 63 (1).
For the purpose of construction, the standard Working Space adjacent to the drain must be available along the side that is best suited for construction. In some sections of the drain, it may be necessary to complete construction or maintenance from both sides of the drain. The designated Working Space is set at 50m from the top of bank and is necessary to allow construction to be carried out and excavated material to be spread. Where the “Working Space” impacts small (residential) lots, less than 2.0ha in size, the Construction Working Space is reduced to 8.0m and is understood to be in conformance with existing zoning/official plan and other regulatory set-backs.
For the purpose of future maintenance, the standard Working Space adjacent to the drain must be available along the side of the drain where maintenance is required (either or both sides). The designated Working Space is set at 25m from the top of bank and is necessary to allow maintenance to be carried out and excavated material spread. Where the “Working Space” impacts small (residential) lots, less than 2.0ha in size, the Maintenance Working Space is reduced to 5.0m.
As per SP3.1.2 of the Engineer’s Report all excavated material from small lots is to be removed off-site. It is recommended that the working space be kept free of permanent obstructions including (but not limited to), plantings (trees), non-removable fences, structures and/or other permanent landscaping features.
Access to the Working Space for the purpose of construction, inspection or maintenance is restricted to persons prescribed under the authority of the Ontario Drainage Act, R.S.O.1990 being the Drainage Engineer (or assistants) – S.12(1), the Contractor (or assistants) – S.63(1) and/or the Drainage Superintendent (or assistants) – S.95(3). Where possible (excluding emergencies) it is required that a minimum 48 hours advance notice (in writing) or direct communication with the affected owner be provided before accessing the drain working space.
APPENDIX F – SPECIAL PROVISIONS (SP 1.0 – WORKING SPACE) SP 1.0 is modified as prescribed by this Addendum for Section 10 – Working Space.
Section 7.5 – Allowances is modified to include the following:
An allowance is made to small lots (less than 2.0ha in size) utilized for drain access for the purpose of construction or future maintenance. This allowance is afforded to the specified properties on the basis that restrictions are placed on the area of land specified as “working space”, including the requirement to be kept free of permanent obstructions including (but not limited to), plantings (trees), nonremovable fences, structures and/or other permanent landscaping features.
Land allowances for the affected lots are applied as prescribed by Schedule E1 – attached to the engineers’ report presented at the May 3 meeting. You can view the May 3 meeting agenda, the engineers’ letter and Schedules by clicking on the link for the meeting agenda here.
In all, more than 2,000 properties are being assessed for some of the costs of the approximately seven-kilometre-long drain. There are more than 500 property owners in Champlain Township and in The Nation Municipality who will pay for the drainage work. The drainage area encompasses about 6,695 hectares, or 17,210 acres. Some landowners are being assessed tens of thousands of dollars while some residential property owners are paying less than $100, according to the schedule of assessment, which uses various factors to calculate what property owners will pay. Factors include proximity to the drain, benefit, the size of one’s property, and the type of property.