Windsor

Chatham-Kent calls on government to offset multi-million dollar shoreline project

Chatham-Kent council will look to the provincial and federal governments to help pay for a multi-million dollar approach to shoreline erosion and flooding.

Cost of protection work ranges from $132 million to $217 million

There are 120 properties on Erie Shore Drive which the report suggests could be bought out rather than protected. (Sue Reid/CBC)

Chatham-Kent council will look to the provincial and federal governments to help pay for a multi-million dollar approach to shoreline erosion and flooding.

Council spent more than three hours Monday night dealing with a report —  the Chatham-Kent Lake Erie Shoreline Study — presenting several options. The study looks at a 120 km stretch of lakefront which has been under siege from rising lake levels and high winds.

The cost of carrying out all the protection work would range from $132 million to $217 million.

Politicians unanimously agreed upon a six-point resolution that will seek funding from upper levels of government.

"This is a provincial-federal problem, not a Municipality of Chatham-Kent problem that we can solve," said Coun. Douglas Sulman. "We just do not have this kind of tax base or the funding."

The resolution also calls for a report on opportunities to help homeowners maintain their properties.

"We also need to think about what it is that the individuals who are occupying those buildings and what the community impacts are to some of the decisions that are coming forward," said Coun. Melissa Harrigan.

The study area in the Chatham-Kent Lake Erie Shoreline Study covers 120 kilometres. (Zuzek Inc.)

When it comes to Erie Shore Drive near Erieau, there are 120 properties which the report suggests could be bought out rather than protected. Some of these homes were evacuated earlier this year because of a failing dike that needed to be repaired, leaving some homeowners unsure of the future of their properties.

Terra Cadeau, president of the Erie Shore Drive Property Owners Association, said she's "encouraged" to see the report put this neighbourhood at the top of it's list as a priority. 

"We know that this has been an ongoing thing that's getting worse, the municipality did some emergency work evacuating the road... but we are certainly not safe," she said. "Next step is where do we go from here in terms of what option is realistic and how do we go about financing it."

Homes along Erie Shore Drive in Chatham-Kent were evacuated earlier this year because of a failing dike that needed to be repaired, leaving some homeowners unsure of the future of their properties. (Sue Reid/CBC)

The report suggests it would cost between $59.2 million and $84.4 million to protect the properties and agricultural land for 50 years. However, it would only cost approximately $42.5 million to $51.7 million to buy out the properties and protect the agricultural land.

"I think there's probably some of our members who would interested in that," said Cadeau. "I don't think that's financially feasible. Not everyone is in a position or would want that."

Cadeau said the other thing to consider about a buyout option is that the area of land would still need to be protected, as well as the dike, to protect the surrounding farmland and Erieau. 

Overall, Cadeau is glad that residents and officials are at the table discussing best options. 

"We had an opportunity to voice many of our concerns," she said, after meeting with the board and seeing the draft of the report before it went to council. 

"We have to work together."
 

With files from Dale Molnar

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