Flood­plain may stall projects

De­vel­op­ers shocked con­ser­va­tion au­thor­ity study of south Lon­don may change flood­plain

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - NOR­MAN DE BONO ndebono@post­media.com twit­ter.com/Nor­matLFPress

Hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of Lon­don prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing ma­jor roads, may be des­ig­nated flood­plain un­der changes pro­posed by the Up­per Thames River Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity.

The con­ser­va­tion agency is up­dat­ing its flood­plain map­ping and states in a re­port to the city’s plan­ning and en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee meet­ing Mon­day that mas­sive change may be loom­ing in the Ding­man Creek wa­ter­shed.

Much of the land is in south Lon­don and part of the South­west Area Plan, an area tar­geted for ma­jor devel­op­ment. But a flood­plain des­ig­na­tion can re­strict con­struc­tion.

“We find it in­com­pre­hen­si­ble that such ex­ten­sive lands areas through­out the en­tire south­ern part of the city could be so se­verely im­pacted,” said a let­ter to the com­mit­tee from Carole Wiebe of the Lon­don plan­ning firm MHBC.

Wiebe, rep­re­sent­ing builders Blue­Stone Prop­er­ties, urged the city to re­view the find­ings, and ques­tioned the way the study was car­ried out.

“This could have sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pacts on ex­ist­ing de­vel­oped areas of the city,” she stated.

She also called for landown­ers to be “brought into the process” and have in­put into the study.

The screen­ing area in­cludes Won­der­land Road from high­ways 402 to 401, Welling­ton Road from Bradley Av­enue to the 401, much of Ex­eter Road and all of Ding­man Drive.

“We have lands in this area that I per­son­ally have worked on since an­nex­a­tion (in 1993),“Bernie Bier­baum, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Blue­Stone Prop­er­ties, said by email.

“UTRCA has cre­ated (a study) based on sci­ence that many be­lieve is flawed . . . Hun­dreds of landown­ers are af­fected, projects may be stopped. Jobs will be lost.”

How­ever, it is too soon to raise an alarm over lost devel­op­ment, as this is the start of a long, com­plex process that will in­clude de­vel­op­ers, said John Flem­ing, di­rec­tor of plan­ning for the city.

“This is the be­gin­ning of a dis­cus­sion based on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the con­ser­va­tion au­thor­ity. The UTRCA and city will work with the devel­op­ment com­mu­nity. The next step is to look at their model,” he said.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. This is very pre­lim­i­nary.”

But build­ing is slated for the area now, and ap­pli­ca­tions are be­ing sub­mit­ted. “We are rais­ing a flag and say­ing to ap­pli­cants, con­sult be­fore devel­op­ment goes ahead,” said Flem­ing.

The area has not been stud­ied for flood­plain map­ping since the 1980s. There are sev­eral rea­sons why an area may change and be re­con­sid­ered as flood­plain, said Tracy An­nitt, man­ager of en­vi­ron­men­tal plan­ning for the UTRCA.

“An area that is now a park­ing lot may have been a field, but pave­ment can­not cap­ture wa­ter and there is more runoff,” she said.

“We are say­ing we are now look­ing at where the flood­plains are, and that we need to do fur­ther re­view, it needs to be stud­ied.”

Wiebe ques­tions the UTRCA work: “it is im­per­a­tive that the sci­ence and tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis that for­mu­lated th­ese screen­ing areas is thor­oughly vet­ted and ver­i­fied. Our clients have not been able to have any of this flood­plain in­for­ma­tion ver­i­fied,” she said.


Marc Wester­velt of Amico Wind­sor smooths out a freshly poured side­walk at the cor­ner of Tal­bot and Dun­das streets in down­town Lon­don. Bal­ance and pa­tience are re­quired as blow­ing leaves and rain ruin the sur­face of the con­crete. Amico is han­dling the con­crete work for the flex street con­struc­tion.

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