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‘Proud Mary’ neighbours want council to ‘get rollin’ on flood repairs

UPDATE: Municipal staff have discussions under way and will be presenting a report to council in October.

Flooding of Marsh Creek onto public and private land is being brought to council’s attention by the ‘Proud Mary Neighbours Association.’

Megan Smith is to present a deputation at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, on behalf of the residents of East Mary Street in Picton.

“Residents and visitors know our street as the best way to avoid Main Street traffic. It’s been called “Lower Mary”, “One-way Mary”, even “Wrong-way Mary”. We residents met this spring and voted to call ourselves “The Proud Mary Neighbours Association.”

Their most urgent priority is flooding – new to the area and first experienced with the flooding along the Great Lakes in 2017, and again this year.

“Because of high water on the Great Lakes in 2017 and IJC Plan 14 protocols, the water in Picton Harbour started coming up the creek in early spring. It happened again this year.” This year, Smith notes the water was still coming in on July 22. “This is not ground water.”

The neighbours question whether the underlying issue is lack of maintenance, check valves that don’t close, a mystery pipe, a culvert that should not have been built, or degradation of the levee during installation of the culvert.

The neighbours believe their flooding problem was preventable.

“We know we live on a 100-year flood plain and we understand what that means – few people do. We also know that the levee is there to protect our property and we know that it has been neglected.”

The flooding, Smith reports, is becoming a health hazard due to insects, mould-related illnesses, respiratory issues and allergies.

“Some of us have been dealing with breathing issues, headaches or chronic cold and flu symptoms for weeks,” she said. “The smell of rotting vegetation, animal waste and mould is sometimes overpowering. It’s a thick, heavy gassy stench. You can almost see it. The algae covers everything and then it starts to rot too.”

The ditch that runs parallel to the levee usually works well to channel spring storm water into the creek, she states in her deputation. “At worst, the grass at the bottom of our yards is spongy in the early spring. All the people who have homes adjacent to the creek and the storm water ditch have had the same experience.”

She explained the system in theory is sound and spring storm water is effectively channelled via a culvert to the creek, then Picton harbour. The yards, she notes, are usually dry in time for mowing season.

During 2017 and 2019 flooding, “it flows directly and relentlessly into our back yards.

“It’s like a tide that ebbs and peaks in as little as ten minutes in response to the winds and waves on Lake Ontario. With each cycle, the inflow is slightly greater than the outflow so the water in our yards gets higher by the hour. This process doesn’t start to slow down until mid June.”

The residents suggest the County remove the culvert, repair the levee; replace or repair valves on both sides of the creek and investigate or remove a mystery pipe.

They would also like to see an annual maintenance plan that includes spring and fall inspections and a collaboration with the community and Quinte Conservation to promote stewardship.

They request council direct staff to report back to council on the work by Oct 4.

Filed Under: Local News

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