City to dredge flood-prone Sy­den­ham Creek

Work on hold un­til af­ter fore­cast rains pass, study done

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN mvan­don­gen@thespec.com 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

The city says it has fed­eral per­mis­sion to do emer­gency dredg­ing in Sy­den­ham Creek in an ef­fort to pre­vent fur­ther se­ri­ous flood­ing in Dundas.

But the work can’t start un­til af­ter the next few stormy days.

Hamil­ton was pounded by a month’s worth of rain April 20, spurring city-wide com­plaints about street flood­ing and even sewer back­ups. Dundas was par­tic­u­larly hard-hit be­cause Sy­den­ham Creek over­flowed its banks, send­ing muddy wa­ter cas­cad­ing down res­i­den­tial streets.

The over­flow was blamed on de­bris that plugged a large drain grate along the creek near the Tim Hor­tons on King Street East.

But the rush­ing flood wa­ter also dumped a “sig­nif­i­cant” amount of mud and rocks into the creek bed be­tween Sy­den­ham Street and Park­side Av­enue, said ward Coun. Ar­lene Van­derBeek.

“The worry is that in­creases the chances of the (filled-in) creek over­flow­ing,” she said. “That’s why we were seek­ing per­mis­sion to do emer­gency dredg­ing.”

Nor­mally, the fed­eral depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans Canada is re­luc­tant to al­low the “rare” dredg­ing in a nat­u­ral creek be­cause of the im­pact on fish and other wildlife habi­tat, said Brian Hughes, tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions man­ager for the city.

“But in this case, we’re deal­ing with po­ten­tial emer­gency (flood­ing) sit­u­a­tions and they (the fed­eral gov­ern­ment) are will­ing to work with us,” he said, adding the Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity has also signed off in prin­ci­ple.

Hughes said the city hopes to use heavy equip­ment to dredge 150 me­tres or more of the silted-in creek bed in the area of Alma Street and Park­side Av­enue. He said the work is largely ex­pected to stick to parts of the creek that pass through pub­lic prop­erty.

The dredg­ing will have to wait un­til af­ter the next few days of rain — up to 70 mil­lime­tres by Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to En­vi­ron­ment Canada.

The city still has to study the work area fur­ther — and de­ter­mine how much the project might cost — be­fore set­ting a date, Hughes said.

In the mean­time, Van­derBeek ex­pressed con­fi­dence the city is prepped to deal with the next on­slaught of tree de­bris at the of­fend­ing creek “gate” if stormy weather again roils up the creek.

The city has also added sand­bags around se­lect flood-prone “hot spots” in Dundas and else­where. “I can’t say I’m not ner­vous, but I do feel more com­fort­able that it is all-hands on deck,” Van­derBeek said.

About 120 peo­ple have al­ready called in re­sponse to a city “com­pas­sion­ate grant” pro­gram open to res­i­dents who ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing dur­ing the April 20 del­uge. El­i­gi­ble res­i­dents can ac­cess up to $1,000 via the pro­gram, but the money is not an ad­mis­sion of li­a­bil­ity by the city.

An­other 20 res­i­dents have filed for­mal le­gal claims seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for flood­ing al­leged to be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the city.

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Wa­ter flows down King Street East in Dundas on April 20.

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