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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex Council urged to up flood prevention subsidies

by Greg Layson

The Town of Essex might soon have the most comprehensive residential flood prevention program in Windsor and Essex County.

  A Report to Council recommends residents gain access to nearly double the public money — and a new subsidy — they can use to help mitigate basement flooding.

  A report by Infrastructure Services that Council received at the March 4 meeting recommends increasing the total maximum lifetime flooding subsidy amount per household to $3,575, from the $1,825 currently available. 

  Among the costliest recommendations:

• The Town cover 100 percent of the cost of investigative pipe camera work, up to a maximum of $400. Currently, the Town covers 50 percent up to a maximum of $200;

• The Town cover 100 percent of the cost of the installation of a sanitary backwater valve up to a cost of $1,000. The current subsidy total is 50 percent up to $750;

•  The Town cover the entire cost of sump pump installation to disconnect foundation drains from floor drains, up to $1,750. That’s a $1,000 increase.

  A new subsidy would have the Town pay up to $300 to a home owner who adds a sump pump overflow to their existing sump pump.

  “This subsidy program would allow for the residents to request subsidies that benefit the Town's water system and protect their homes from flooding to a maximum lifetime amount of $3,575 per household, which would be the highest amount offered in the region, including the city of Windsor,” Director of Infrastructure Services, Kevin Girard, told Councillors. 

  Staff said an increase in subsidies is necessary because the frequency of significant rain events has increased tremendously in recent years, with the most happening August 24-25, 2023. 

  “Climate change has caused major flooding in the Town of Essex over the last decade, which has led to the completion of studies and capital spending,” the Report to Council notes. “There are many actions that private property owners can take to help mitigate surcharging and flooding of Town infrastructure, while also protecting their own private properties.”

  If the recommendations are eventually adopted, the Town of Essex would offer five subsidies. Only three neighbouring municipalities offer four.

  The Town’s water budget has allocated $50,000 toward the flood prevention subsidies. There is also $5,000 earmarked specifically for rain barrels in the stormwater budget.

  And while staff said “there are no financial impacts as a result of this report,” it did warn that “should Council proceed with the recommended actions of this report to draft the By-Law and Policy, financial impacts will be presented to Council at that time.”

The only real issue Councillors had with the recommendations was the rain barrel subsidy. Ward 2 Councillor Kim Verbeek believed $50 was too low and wanted it doubled. 

  Ward 1 Councillor Joe Garon agreed, as long as the subsidy was limited to one barrel per property.

  The motion to increase the rain barrel subsidy passed. 

  Council directed Administration to present a proposed By-Law and Policy for the Basement Flooding Subsidy Program in accordance with the criteria described within this report in the near future as the next step.

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