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East Gwillimbury neglects drainage ditches, Sharon residents charge

Town wants $45K to hook into sewage system
June 24, 2015
by Simon Martin

Large bungalows on private septic systems aren’t the housing stock offered these days at the myriad sales centres on Leslie Street in Sharon.

But tucked in behind the Vince’s Market plaza, older homes on Sharon Boulevard were built before the development surge.

A lack of storm sewers on the road has become an increasing problem for many of the street’s homeowners, who say sludgy, standing water in ditches won’t drain away.

What really irritates resident Jeff Dennis is that the ditches are town property, which means the municipality is responsible for maintaining them.

“A lot of the ditches are just soaked,” he said. “They never get cleaned.”

Sitting water is are legitimate safety concern, residents complain.

“At night, during the summer, we have lots of problems with mosquitoes and other flying insects. They live in the sitting water, inside the culverts under the driveways and in the grasses,” he said.

Dennis said he has slipped several times while mowing or weeding the culverts and while he classified these incidents as general irritants, last summer he slipped and fell while mowing the culvert and had his lawnmower run over his leg, he said. Luckily, he wasn’t seriously injured.

Dennis isn’t the only resident raising concerns about the issue. Albert Pearson moved into his home on the boulevard in 1974. He said the ditches have been neglected for a long time.

“It’s impossible to cut the grass in the ditch,” he said. Pearson gets his son to come by every few weeks to maintain his ditch. “It’s been needing fixing for a long time,” he said.

Dennis circulated a petition to neighbours in agreement the town needed to deal with the problem and to ensure the deep culverts are hazard free for residents and visitors to Sharon Boulevard.

The town responded to residents’ concerns earlier this month by offering two options: residents pay $45,000 each to have a proper storm drainage system installed or the ditches remain the responsibility of the town, which will regrade them.

Needless to say, Dennis doesn’t think that’s much of choice and doesn’t believe it will solve the problem.

“Nobody has $45,000 sitting around waiting to be spent to improve town property. Regrading is the only option the town has truly offered and it will not resolve the hazards we have identified,” he said.

Pearson thinks the proper solution is to fill in the ditches. “They gave us two choices and both of them are just ridiculous,” he said.

The town, however, sees it a little differently. In a statement from the town’s communications manager, Genvieve Singh, the town said sediment buildup in driveway culverts contribute to water not being able to flow as it once did when the development was new. Regrading and resetting driveway culverts (where necessary) will allow water, once again, to flow and allow effective drainage.

Council chose to discontinue the practice of implementing ditch in-fills on a property-by-property basis earlier this year, she said. Councillor Tara Roy-DiClemente said the move was made to ensure changes to drainage on roads were uniform.

The problem residents face is they can’t make changes to the ditches because it is town property.

So, even if a homeowner wanted to have his ditch filled in with a culvert pipe underneath, he would need the town to complete the work.

According to Dennis, that option used to cost residents $3,800 and now it is not even an option.

“The town has chosen not to address our concerns and has not offered appropriate solutions to the problems and hazards associated with its culverts,” Dennis said. “We have asked for hazards to be addressed and have been offered lip service in return.”

There was a meeting held at the civic centre last night to discuss the issue, which also involved residents on Morton Avenue, who also have drainage ditches.