A l’Orignal couple are happy to have reached an understanding with Champlain Township over their concerns about the impact of a drainage improvement project on their property.
“Much better now that we know the truth,” said Sandy Golding, following a late-afternoon meeting August 3 between her and her spouse, Steve MacCulloch, and Mayor Normand Riopel and Éric Leroux, Champlain Township drainage superintendent.
The subject of the meeting was the impact that planned rehabilitation work to the Mill Creek municipal drain might have on the couple’s property located near the intersection of County Road 17 and Cassburn Road.
The township needs to do some excavation work and bank stabilization of parts of the municipal drain to ensure a free flow of storm water and also reduce the risk of slope erosion that results in blockages and causes flooding of lands alongside the municipal drainage route.
Township council approved the Mill Creek municipal drain improvement plan during an earlier session. Notice of the project was placed in local papers and notices also sent out to residents whose properties bordered the municipal drain, explaining what their share of the rehabilitation work cost would be.
During interviews with local media prior to the August 3 meeting with the mayor and the drainage superintendent, MacCulloch said he hadn’t received any notice and the first he knew about the Mill Creek rehab work was when a trio of workers contracted to do the work showed up in his yard to do a preliminary site survey.
« They told me they were looking at the trees that they were going to cut down, » MacCulloch said. « I told them ‘You’re not going to be cutting down any trees.’ »
The trio gave MacCulloch a business card and then left. He called the township and arranged an on-site meeting at his house with Mayor Riopel and Superintendent Leroux.
« I’m really concerned with the wildlife back there, » MacCulloch, said, indicating the woodland area of the municipal drain that borders his property. « We have mallards that have been nesting there for years. »
He also noted that the woods are home to a variety of other birds, including cardinals and several types of woodpecker.
« They’ve had enough loss of their habitat, » he said.
MacCulloch also pointed out a crabapple tree that was part of the property when his father owned it. The tree has become a family heritage piece and he was concerned that it might end up cut down or damaged.
Superintendent Leroux apologized to MacCulloch and Golding for the surprise visit from the contractors for the project. Leroux said that he was trying to meet in person with all the property owners in advance of any work done as part of the Mill Creek rehabilitation project to explain what would be done and to hear any concerns before any work began on or near their property. The contractors, he said, should not have visited without him being present also.
Leroux listened to both MacCulloch and Golding explain their worries about the Mill Creek rehab project. He then explained what part of their property might be included as part of the rehabilitation work. Leroux noted that most of the work might just involvd removal of dead or damaged trees along the slope of the drain route and placing stones on the bank to reduce the risk of erosion.
« The goal is to make sure we stabilize the bank, » he said. «If we don’t have to touch anything, then we won’t. »