Kent council voted down several, but not all, items recommended by the Agassiz-Harrison Mills Drainage Committee at last Monday’s meeting.
But at the end of the meeting, Mayor John Van Laerhoven stressed that just because many of the items were defeated doesn’t mean that council isn’t supportive of the committee.
“Please do not interpret the defeat of these motions as us not supporting you,” he said, and many of the issues brought up would cost “need more capital.”
Councillor Duane Post, the primary contact for the AHMDC was not in attendance at the meeting, so the 10 recommendations coming out of their Dec. 4 committee meeting were brought forward by the alternate, Councillor Lorne Fisher.
There was plenty of discussion around the council table regarding each recommendation, starting with the committee asking for council to write to CPR to request an assessment on the culverts located on railway property and near 4905 Hunt Road and at the Clark/Hogg ditches, to determine the impact the culverts are having on drainage.
However, Mick Theissen, director of engineering, told council that since the committee last met, staff has already contacted CPR on that matter, and is awaiting a reply.
Council did carry a motion that says property owners affected by upcoming drainage maintenance would be given notice, both by mail and through newspaper advertisements.
But council did not move a recommendation that “council considers publicly providing information previously submitted relating to its position, at its next regular meeting, with respect to the proposed Provincial Water Sustainability Act.”
However, Theissen said that information is already available through the province’s website. The Act is being rewritten, and council has provided input in that process, including a letter from Councillor Lorne Fisher in 2009, when he was Kent’s mayor.
The recommendation wasn’t moved forward.
Council also defeated a recommendation that they invite Vic Toews, minister of public safety, to a public meeting prior to the review of the Official Community Plan, with regards to the development plans of Corrections Canada lands at Sutherland and Humphrey Roads.
The drainage committee also recommended that council write to Keith Ashfield regarding the Water Sustainability Act exemptions and exclusions for the maintenance of engineered drainage/irrigation ditches and storm water reservoirs.
Fisher said “there are some very serious problems with the wording of that.”
“This recommendation negates the effectiveness of the Water Sustainability Act, and that’s not something we want to do,” he said.
Council also found wording problems with a recommendation that council considers upgrading the McCallum Ditch from the culvert at Sutherland Road and Humphrey Road intersection, to the Mountain Slough, with a ten foot wide floor bottom.
The cost of such a project is beyond the financial abilities of the District, Fisher said.
“There is a significant problem here,” he said. “It was cost far more money than we have at council,” he said.
The number of recommendations being defeated caused gave at least one councillor pause.
“Are they not made aware of these things,” Councillor Holger Schwichtenberg said. “Where do these recommendations come from?”
Mayor John Van Laerhoven concurred that a lot of recommendations put forward would cost more money than is realisitic.
Council unanimously opposed that recommendation.
The drainage committee also asked council to consider moving the McCallum Ditch anywhere from 60 to 100 metres away from buildings at at 2461 Bodnar Road.
“This is a motion with wording I feel we cannot support at council,” Fisher said.
“I’d like to agree,” Schwichtenberg said. “I could be in favour, but not the way it sits right now.”
CAO Wallace Mah said that the council cannot spend money to aid a business, and that a project like this would require communication with the landowner.
The drainage committee also asked for legal compensation from individuals or organizations found responsible for damaging the district’s engineered ditches.
All council was opposed, and that was defeated.
Finally, the committee asked for council to provide them with all correspondence from the province and federal government, with respect to the financing approvals for the additional floodbox and upgrades to the Hammersley pump station.
That recommendation was quickly shut down, with Mah pointing out that there is a legal action pending on that matter.