News Local

Common calamity for Belle Ewart residents

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

It's the same old, same old for Belle Ewart area residents this week as another thaw turns their neighbourhoods into huge puddles.

"It's a chronic thing that happens year after year," Belle Ewart resident John Hurd said Thursday.

"There are some yards that are totally covered, with the water coming up to the foundation and roads are covered. Some people I've talked to thought it was the worse they'd ever seen."

Mild temperatures and rain caused waters to rise Wednesday night - forcing town officials to close some roads - but there was still wide-spread flooding earlier in the day on many streets.

"There was two or three inches of water and it had a current to it while it was going across the road," Hurd said, adding it was much worse in other areas.

His wife drove through a foot of water on her way home from Alcona Thursday afternoon, he added.

"The ground's frozen so there's no place for the water to go. It's like it's running over asphalt," he said.

"All that snow melt and rain has to come from a large area well west of Belle Ewart: all the those farmers fields and gullies. So when the flooding starts, that's not the end of it. It just keeps coming."

Innisfil chief administrative officer Larry Allison said Thursday that roads in six areas were closed because of high water levels. Roads in seven other areas were also closed but levels were not as high.

"Road crews have been out continuously. This time we had the resources down there to deal with it," he said, adding that eventually, four pumps were deployed to move water from ditches and other areas into Cook's Bay.

Allison said as of Thursday afternoon, the South Innisfil Drain was "nearing capacity along lines 2 and 3" and that the 8th Line and Lawson Creek drains "were within their banks".

He's is hopeful the flooding can be minimized by some future changes in the area.

"The Lefroy Settlement Area Management Inc. (LSAMI) development in Lefroy west of the GO tracks is going to do over-control of the storm water there to reduce discharge down stream. It will make a contribution to future flood relief in that area," Allison said.

The town will also be expanding the mouth of Carson Creek (drain) to further enhance flow, he added.

A timeframe for that project has yet to be announced, however.

"The flood warning expires Friday. We're hoping things will cool down and get back to normal. As the temperatures cool, it will slow down the flooding."

Hurd said the elimination of much of the area's wetlands - which act like sponges and help control flooding - is one reason the area is inundated every thaw. He described development in the area as piecemeal.

"It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that," he said.

"There should never have been so much building (activity) around wetlands without proper planning and engineering solutions. If it's not done properly, it makes it worse."

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