divdfk · 2021-10-19

Developer’s plan could ease chronic flooding

It’s an offer Innisfil councillors are finding difficult to refuse.

The Cortel development group says it can fix chronic flooding problems in the Belle Ewart area through state-of-the art stormwater management.

But first it needs to see more of its land included the town’s official plan so the company can create a series of over-sized stormwater ponds to catch run-off before it floods properties near Lake Simcoe.

“This would be real public benefit,” Cortel spokesperson Terry Geddes told council. “It’s been proven by our engineering team that it will reduce the flooding.”

However, to include Cortel land south of Killarney Beach Road east of the 20th Sideroad, council would have to exclude land in north Alcona near Conc. 9.

The majority of council appeared to be leaning in that direction last Wednesday.

“If the flooding problem can be fixed — boy — let’s get at it,” Coun. Bill Pring said.

Coun. Bill Van Berkel made an passionate plea for the Cortel proposal, saying it may be the only hope for residents who put up with flooding during winter and spring thaws.

“Anyone who would take this (proposal) out has never been flooded four or five times a year,” he said. “They’ve never had their cars frozen into their driveways; they’ve never been without drinking water.”

With a proposed population increase of 33,000 in the next 23 years, the town must limit where it places new residents. It is restricted by the province’s Places to Grow policy, Simcoe County’s official plan and Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

To allow more growth in the south, a development proposed by Pratt near Conc. 9 and the 20th Sideroad, which would include a commercial and industrial sector, would have to be sacrificed.

Several councillors are uncomfortable with Alcona north proposal because it is so close to the environmentally sensitive Leonard’s Wetlands area.

“If there was ever an industrial spill in that area it would have a huge impact,” Coun. Dan Davidson said. “We’d have transport trucks coming all the way down IBR and so close to the shores of Lake Simcoe. I’m just not comfortable developing in that area.”

A planning report also states it would be difficult to build large stormwater management ponds in north Alcona to stop flooding near the lake because of the proximity to Leonard’s Wetlands.

Deputy Mayor Gord Wauchope pushed for a vote, recommending the Cortel land be included in the town’s official plan by removing the north Alcona development areas.

“We keep trying to fix the flooding problem, but all we keep doing is pump water from people’s properties into Lake Simcoe,” Wauchope said. “This is something that could finally fix it.”

But council balked, calling for more engineering data to prove Cortel’s stormwater management system would prevent flooding in the Belle Ewart area.

“If we are basing this entire decision on whether this is going to stop flooding, than we better make darn sure that it is going to stop flooding,” Coun. Lynn Dollin said.

Planning director Robert McAuley said he would report back to council with a more detailed analysis of the proposed flooding solution.