John Brian Currie (left) and his father John Currie Sr. say that property flooding on Diamond Street has been an issue for at least five years, with temporary solutions attempted but never solving the underlying drainage issue. Nina Grossman/The Observer

Harrison backyards flooded by river water

Residents feel development, carelessness to blame for flooding

A lack of proper drainage has caused the yards of at least three Harrison homes along Diamond Street to flood.

One resident, John Brian Currie recently moved into a home on Diamond to take care of his father, 88-year-old veteran John Currie Sr.

Currie is baffled by what he says is a case of neglect on the part of the the Village of Harrison.

Sitting on the front porch with his father, rain clouds loom above his now-underwater vegetable garden.

“The probability of flooding was addressed long beforehand, but ignored,” Currie says. “Dad needs my help [and] I can’t help him out very much when I’m this stressed out.”

According to John Sr., the first time his property flooded was around 2012 when development on the adjacent property impacted drainage for his home.

The Village of Harrison’s Chief Administrative Officer Madeline McDonald says the flooding could be attributed to changing building regulations.

“[Diamond Street] is an older subdivision and a lot of those properties…are actually built below the flood levels,” she says. “So they are subject to flooding in highwater events like we’ve had.”

McDonald says the property developed adjacent to Currie’s had to be elevated above the flood plane as per provincial requirements.

“We don’t allow properties to be built below the flood level anymore,” she says.

According to Currie the flooding has been an ongoing issue, and has even impacted his livelihood. The last flood destroyed a set of electronic tools he had left at his father’s home for safekeeping and this time around, his vegetable gardens are beyond repair, sitting under at least a foot and a half of muddy river water.

“My ability to take care of the property is impacted,” he says. “There is a signifcant possibility for me to get back into the workforce down the road. Without my tools I don’t have a headstart because, I don’t have any money. My main thing is to be here and take care of [my] dad but all my worms got killed [and] my gardening destroyed.”

John Sr. remembers when his property sat on literal higher ground. He says construction on neighboring properties was halted more than once to prevent the flooding that is occuring now.

“I’m really quite angry,” he says. “It would have saved everybody a hell of a lot of money if they had [done] things properly to start with.”

Currie has gone to the Village to request action.

“This property sat without flooding ever in its original state,” he says. “If somebody wants to change something they have to accomodate the fact that it needs to stay drained in perpetuity. You may not interfere with your neighbour’s property.”

“And it’s for the sake of greed and it’s been done with incompetence,” he adds. “Most likely they have a plan to hook the drainage up down the road but what does that do to solve the problem now?”

McDonald says contract engineers have been contacted and she plans to have them out to the property while it’s still in its “highwater state.”

“We’re going to have to have an expert look at it to see what, if anything, we can do to help those property owners,” she says.

John Brian Currie says improper drainage caused by development has damaged his tools, garden and his father’s property. Nina Grossman/The Observer

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