Rain­fall dam­age will cost mil­lions to fix, city told

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

Hamil­ton’s record rainy spell will soak tax­pay­ers for mil­lions of dol­lars in road, trail and base­ment re­pairs this year.

More than 170 mm of re­lent­less rain in April and early May — com­bined with the high­est Lake On­tario water lev­els in a cen­tury — have so far spurred es­carp­ment mud­slides, washed-out roads, flooded base­ments and eroded trails from one end of Hamil­ton to the other.

The soggy sucker punch has al­ready helped wipe out the city’s an­nual es­carp­ment main­te­nance bud­get of $450,000 and is forc­ing con­tracted vac­uum trucks to con­tin­u­ally suck water out of low-ly­ing beach strip streets.

But tax­pay­ers should brace for a fi­nal rainy re­pair tally “in the mil­lions,” warned pub­lic works head Dan McKin­non. “I would guess it would be un­der $5 mil­lion, but it will likely be in the mil­lions,” said McKin­non, who is com­pil­ing a list of short

and long-term re­pair projects ex­pected as a re­sult of the water dam­age to city in­fra­struc­ture.

“It’s re­ally the price of deal­ing with an ex­traor­di­nar­ily wet spring. The rain has been so steady, for such a long pe­riod of time, that we’re see­ing un­prece­dented dam­age.”

That dam­age in­cludes hun­dreds of me­tres of drowned beaches and eroded trails through Hamil­ton that may be too dan­ger­ous to use for the fore­see­able fu­ture, said parks head Kara Bunn.

“We’ve ba­si­cally lost our beaches for the time be­ing,” she added. “This sort of dam­age all at once is un­prece­dented.”

Parts of the city’s three most pop­u­lar trails are closed for safety rea­sons, in­clud­ing the rail trail near the Ke­nil­worth Stairs, the har­bourfront path be­tween Bayfront Park and Princess Point and the lake­front trail near Con­fed­er­a­tion Park.

Bunn said parts of the three-kilo­me­tre sec­tion of harbour-hug­ging trail are un­der­wa­ter and “quite pos­si­bly badly eroded,” mean­ing even af­ter the water re­cedes, the city will need to re­build and “sta­bi­lize” the path be­fore its safe to use again.

Engi­neers are also study­ing a par­tially col­lapsed por­tion of the es­carp­ment rail trail.

Near Con­fed­er­a­tion Park, fierce wave ac­tion has taken a lit­eral bite out of the soil near the trail, cre­at­ing a cliff about a me­tre high.

Bunn said that trail is owned by the city but man­aged by the Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity, so the two agen­cies would work to­gether to cost out a so­lu­tion.

The city is also tal­ly­ing the dam­age to roads and Moun­tain ac­cesses.

Tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions head Brian Hughes said it will likely cost around $300,000 to fix a sec­tion of York Road near Dun­das over­whelmed by high creek water and a dam­aged cul­vert two weeks ago.

Deal­ing with the Ke­nil­worth Ac­cess mud­slide, a nearby “pre­car­i­ously perched boul­der” and sev­eral washed-out ar­eas of the Sher­man Ac­cess road­side will also cost the city.

Beach strip res­i­dents have also com­plained about shore­line ero­sion up and down the Lake On­tario sand­bar, but it’s un­clear what, if any work the city will need to do in re­sponse.

The city is of­fer­ing flooded city res­i­dents the chance to ap­ply for com­pas­sion­ate grants of up to $1,000 if they ended up with wet base­ments be­tween April 20 and May 6.

McKin­non ex­pects to send a ball­park tally of the dam­ages and longterm fixes to coun­cil­lors later this week.

… We’re see­ing un­prece­dented dam­age. DAN MCKIN­NON PUB­LIC WORKS DE­PART­MENT

BARRY GRAY, THE SPECTATOR

The park­ing lot at Le­an­der Boat Club on the harbour re­mains al­most com­pletely un­der water. Lake On­tario lev­els are high and may rise a lit­tle yet, as river cour­ses around the Great Lakes con­tinue to empty.

HAMIL­TON SPECTATOR FILE PHOTO

In late April, a heavy down­pour caused a creek that runs through Dun­das to clog and cause flood­ing.

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