City to dredge flood-prone Sydenham Creek
Work on hold until after forecast rains pass, study done
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.
Water flows down King Street East in Dundas on April 20.