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Flooding has Newmarket residents fuming
July 8, 2015
By Chris Simon

Terry Stewart isn't supposed to have a pond in his backyard.

But a day after a significant storm rolled through Newmarket, flooding his Ontario Street backyard with several feet of murky brown water, he's still waiting for much of the 'pond' to drain. It's a problem he's getting used to, having faced flooding on his property three times over the last 2.5 weeks.

Over the last few years, he's noticed the drainage capacity of Western Creek, which runs just north of his property, has weakened and caused several floods annually.

"It's getting worse," Stewart, who has lived on the property for 47 years, said. "I've had this problem at least once or twice every year. The ducks come and swim here after a flood. (The town) always passes the buck. There are residents here, but on the other side of the creek, it's just field. If the water went into the field, it wouldn't bother anybody. But they don't want to do anything for us; they don't want to maintain the creek."

The flooding also affects four other properties along Ontario. All of the residences are located in a flood plain.

"When we first moved here, we knew there'd be water near the creek up to your ankles when it rains," neighbour Dana Burton, an 18-year resident of the street, said. "With each summer, it's gotten worse. It's not our issue; we shouldn't have to pay for it or put our yards under construction."

There was flooding on several roads in York Region, including at Yonge Street and Mulock Drive and at Davis Drive and Barbara Road in Newmarket, as the downpour moved through the area Tuesday.

The rain caused rising water levels in the Holland River and Fairy Lake in Newmarket.

Meanwhile, the town and Lake Simcoe and Toronto and Region conservation authorities urged residents to stay away from bodies of water, and cautioned that roads in low-lying areas were at risk of flooding.

Newmarket staff also cleaned catch basins and inspected roads and trails in the municipality.

LSRCA expected 30 to 40 millimetres of rain to fall in the area.

"All watercourses in our area will experience higher than normal water levels," LSRCA duty officer Marianne Maertens said. "As a result, local streams and rivers will become dangerous, especially in the vicinity of culverts and bridges. Children should be warned to stay away from all watercourses."

But the Ontario flooding is an indication of more serious problems in the area, Burton said.

Residents met with town and LSRCA officials several times over the last year, and council has committed to monitoring the situation, discussing funding for flooding prevention during 2016 budget deliberations and providing technical information to residents in the affected area. Town and LSRCA staff also plan to work with property owners within the creek’s catchment area, to encourage low impact development and reduce runoff.

The residents were also offered fill to regrade their properties, though they would have to bear the construction costs, she said.

"They're not going to come on our properties," Burton said. "The grade needs to be corrected. All we're asking is that (flooding) doesn't happen. They're not going to take responsibility because it's going to open them up to too many other cases. We don't have any options; they've treated us poorly."

However, town engineering services director Rachel Prudhomme says the problem may be caused by erosion on the Ontario properties.

"The homeowners' properties may have been subjected to erosion and settling over time," engineering services director Rachel Prudhomme said. "As a result, the backyard surface elevations may be lower than they were in the past. The town and LSRCA responsibilities do not extend to improving the condition of private properties to reduce the risk of flooding. The only time that the town will repair or restore private property is when a property has been damaged or disturbed as a direct result of the town's activities, such as during watermain breaks."