Cotterie Park floods after storm, residents say it's worth living on the shore

Leamington's Cotterie Park was hit with high winds and strong waves this week — but residents say they deal with this every year. 

Municipality of Leamington says it's working to better understand the flooding problem along the shore

Areas of Cotterie Park were still flooded as of Thursday afternoon. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Leamington's Cotterie Park was hit with high winds and strong waves this week — but residents say it's something they deal with every year.

This week's storm forced Lake Erie waters onto the road and people's lawns, with water still pooling in the area as of Thursday afternoon. 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority has said in the past that those living along the shore are at risk and should consider relocation — but several homeowners tell CBC News they have no plans to leave.

One resident said "it's beautiful" while another told CBC News, "Not for sale."

Resident Curtis Fitzpatrick has to sell his house for personal reasons — but the flooding has him worried about making the sale. 

"There's no way anyone's going to buy a house around here. That's ridiculous."

'It's a beautiful area'

He added that for those wanting to stay, it's worth it because of how nice it is to live on the shore.

Curtis Fitzpatrick says he'd like to see the municipality do more to protect the area. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"It's a beautiful area, that's the bottom line.... We've got to save our land."

Peter Neufeld, CAO for The Municipality of Leamington, said storms like the one that hit the region this week are happening more and more often. 

"What we are seeing is that these sorts of storms are the norm. What used to be considered a hundred year storm are now the annual storm," he said.

Residents say they deal with flooding every year. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

He added the safety of the people who live in the area is a priority for the municipality but that it has limited tools to actually prevent lake water from coming on to the shore.

Neufeld explained the municipality works closely with ERCA. When flooding happens, the municipality takes action to clear out the roads and clean up infrastructure. 

Fitzpatrick said he'd like to see the municipality do more to protect the area. He argued that flooding could be reduced if there was a law in place ensuring that every shoreline home has a break wall in place. 

Flood Plain Mapping coming

Neufeld said it can be "problematic" having an inconsistent infrastructure break wall from one end to the other, but added while break walls do help stop erosion, they don't actually keep the water from coming through.

This field behind Cotterie Park Road was full of water as of Thursday afternoon. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Moving forward, he said the municipality is working to better understand the problem and has applied for funding from upper levels of government to support its Flood Plain Mapping project, which should be completed by March of 2020. 

The goal of the project is to understand exactly where the weak points are.

"What are some mitigation strategies? And perhaps that will even lead to a discussion around where is it not sustainable? And if it's not sustainable, what are the options? And maybe one option is relocation," he said.

"The problem is that the municipality does not have the funds or the ability to execute a relocation program without the involvement of the province and or the federal government in that program."

Residents of Cotterie Park say it's a beautiful place to live, despite the risks. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

He says he understands it's a difficult situation for those living in the area and he feels for them. 

"We are doing what we can with the tools that we have to try and keep them safe," he said. "It's going to take some study to figure out what our options are going forward."

When flooding happens, the Municipality of Leamington takes action to clear roads and clean up infrastructure, according to CAO Peter Neufeld. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)


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