Windsor

Erie Shore Drive residents launch legal action against Chatham-Kent

A group of property owners along the flood-prone Lake Erie shoreline — on Erie Shore Drive — say they've taken legal action against the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

Group says municipality breached drainage act

A group of homeowners along flood-prone Erie Shore Drive have launched legal action against the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

A group of property owners along the flood-prone Lake Erie shoreline — on Erie Shore Drive — say they've taken legal action against the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

More than 80 members of the group Erie Shore Drive Property Owners Association are seeking damages from the municipality, according to a media release issued on Wednesday.

The group argues that the town has breached its obligations under Ontario's Drainage Act, resulting in members paying the costs for shoreline protections. 

"The dike beneath Erie Shore Drive and the shoreline protection were built under the Drainage Act, placing an obligation on the municipality to maintain both. Unfortunately, that maintenance has not been completed by the municipality resulting in significant risks of flooding and destruction to the properties along the shoreline" Terra Cadeau, president of the group, said in the media release.

"As a result, residents like myself have been forced to spend large sums of our own money to pay the astronomical costs of protecting the shoreline."

Residents of Erie Shore Drive were told to leave their homes from March 2020 to April over concerns the dike could fail, following an engineer's report that found there was a 5 to 40 per cent chance that the dike would breach. A state of emergency was declared for the road and the land protected by the dike.

Property owners were asked to voluntarily leave their homes, following an engineers report saying a dike protecting the area could breach. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

'Forced into the situation'

Trevor Dixon, a member of the Erie Shore Drive Property Owners' Association says this situation should not have happened. 

"We shouldn't have been forced into this situation. I mean, there should be no legal action. It should have been a municipality, stakeholders and landowners coming up with a solution," Dixon said. 

"Solutions are made every day, but the municipality didn't want to come up with a solution."

Trevor Dixon says the association never should have been forced into the situation they are in now. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC Windsor )

A report published that spring, the Chatham-Kent Lake Erie Shoreline Study, found that the cost of tackling shoreline erosion and flooding within a 120-kilometre long stretch that includes Erie Shore Drive would range from $132 million to $217 million.

The report said that 120 properties, including some of the ones evacuated, could be purchased instead of protected.

CBC News reached out to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, which confirmed it had been served with legal action on Wednesday.

"As this is an active legal matter, the municipality will not be providing any further comment at this time," David Taylor, the municipality's director of legal services, said in a statement.

Erie Shore Drive is shown in a March 2020 file photo. (Sue Reid/CBC)

With files from Dale Molnar

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