Agassiz resident Ted Westlin spoke strongly on the issue of local ditches and watercourse maintenance in a delegation to Kent Council Monday night.
Westlin told the District of Kent Council Jan. 11 that he was sorry it has to be such a negative issue on his part, but was asking for Council to “rescind all activities here until we get it sorted out.”
Westlin cited concerns about the classification of the drainage watercourse maintenance, errors in previous consultant reports and listed, in his opinion, the causes for the “maintenance management failures” for property owners adjacent to Bodnar, Cameron, Humphrey and Sutherland roads.
Concerns ranged from inadequate or no maintenance of ditches, incorrect cleaning, misinformation and lack of communication.
“How do we manage to have 77 continuous days and 23 non-continuous days of water over Westlin Ditch banks in an agricultural drainage area,” he questioned.
The ditch beside Westlin’s rural Agassiz land has been eroding, leading to the loss of land on his property. He says as concerning as the loss of land is the stress of it all: “Emotional, physical, financial and health uncertainty, at the young age of 82.”
Westlin, who has binders full of notes, pictures and articles related to District of Kent ditches and drainage, says he is tired of it all.
“Enough is enough,” Westlin, a former councillor himself, concluded in his delegation.
Council members had several questions for Westlin. Coun. Sylvia Pranger urged Council to listen to him and heed the information. She asked Westlin what he wanted them to do right now and he replied that if Council could agree to be on the same side of this issue, it would help in discussions with provincial authorities.
Coun. Darcy Striker assured Westlin the argument does not fall on deaf ears locally.
“You don’t have to try and convince us,” Striker said. “We live here. We see what happens.”
Coun. Duane Post reported that he went to Westlin’s property and saw the stakes Westlin had driven into the ground that are rapidly moving down the bank.
“It really shows how much the bank has failed,” remarked Post.
Mayor John Van Laerhoven echoed the councillor’s sentiments.
“Council and staff are absolutely on board with what needs to happen out there,” he told Westlin. “We are as frustrated as you are.”
Van Larehoven says they have brought up the issue of local waterways repeatedly with the province and will continue to “battle on.”
“We have responsibility to the landowner to make sure the ditches are properly drained,” the mayor stated.