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Leamington residents say break wall repairs can't come soon enough

Repairs to a Leamington break wall are halted until a new assessment can be completed this fall.

'It seems like everyone is just running amok,' says one resident

A major storm in 2018 caused waves to crash into the breakwall on East Beach Road in Leamington, Ont. (Submitted by Erica Heil)

Leamington, Ont. residents told council they need break wall repairs now — not this fall, when the report for the fix might be approved.

Joan Dimmick lives in one of the 57 homes on East Beach Road and her break wall has been battered by strong waves and high water levels. 

"It seems like everyone is just running amok," said Dimmick. "There's engineers doing studies, but there doesn't seem to be anybody doing anything really."

Dimmick has lived on the road for almost 20 years.

"When we moved here, we had beach," said Dimmick. "Now [the water] is hitting the break wall with more force."

According to Dimmick, the area has been dealing with severe weather for years. 

Erica Heil is standing on a piece of a concrete staircase that fell into the water after it eroded away. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The municipality has received several requests since April of last year to fix the crumbling break wall along East Beach Road — including from Erica Heil, who has spent $10,000 of her own money on repairs.

"We need more armoured stone," said Heil, who has lived on the road for three years. "We know that many people are in need ... we're just hoping we can get more rock."

The break wall is owned by the municipality, which has ordered the shoreline to be inspected. 

The last assessment schedule was created in 1973, which found high water levels at the time were causing shoreline erosion — so the break wall was the solution put in place.

In 2016, emergency repairs were required to two East Beach Road addresses, with 18 loads of armoured stone placed along the break wall. The emergency work cost about $87,000. Lakefront homeowners had to pay about $130 each for the repairs. 

Repairs were halted after that, so a new assessment schedule could be created and approved. An engineer was appointed, and has said that report will be available this fall. 

Larry Roberts says the fix can't wait — and it's been tough to watch the storms cause more and more damage. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Larry Roberts has lived in the area for 50 years and said the sand used to go out behind his property about "two football fields," until about 2015. 

"Filling in areas that have eroded [is all that needs to happen]," said Roberts. "It has lasted really well."

Roberts said the fix cannot wait — and it's been tough to watch the storms cause more and more damage.

"We want some kind of joint effort between the municipality and the provincial government to patch the break wall where it's weak."

Dimmick said residents are just asking for the municipality to do something — anything.

"They tell us things, then they go away, and then nothing is done," said Dimmick, adding she'd like to see the process expedited.

"I'm not frightened by the damage .. but I'd like to stay here. It's really difficult to know there's a storm coming ... I'd like to fight it."

With files from Sanjay Maru

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