Editorial - Storms changed priorities and system still adjusting

Heavy rains July 1, 2010, and then again in June 2014, changed priorities in Yorkton.

Both rain events were considered the rarest of events, the second termed a one-in-100-year event, but it didn’t matter that such storm events might not be seen again for decades, the prospect that it might happen again anytime rain cloud forms in the sky, had residents uneasy.

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That is not surprising when you cast your mind back to the two rain events, which had business and residential buildings across the city dealing with flooded basements and damaged property.

The dual flood events cost residents hundreds of thousands, if not millions, as property was replaced and repaired, a process taking months after each event.

Suddenly, how the City could best deal with future flood events became a paramount concern for many local taxpayers, and in turn Yorkton Council listened and reacted.

Since the two events the City has invested substantial dollars in creating a long term vision of how to deal with run-off water in the years ahead.

It was at the August 22, 2016 regular council meeting, approval was granted to begin a study to identify possible solutions along with preliminary cost estimates to address localized flooding in 11 areas identified by the City’s Public Works Department.

Representatives of Integrated Engineering, the firm contracted to do the work, reviewed the initial report with Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting in February 2017.

The report included 12 projects recommended to relieve flooding in the 11 identified problem areas.

The total estimated cost to complete the projects was approximately $40 million (depending on the options ultimately selected) in 2017.

Since 2010 through to February 2017, the City of Yorkton has spent over $9,500,000 on overland drainage. This includes mostly the Brodie Pond and the channel and ponds on Dracup Avenue. Also, piping was upgraded along Dracup Avenue at a cost $6,400,000.

The Whitesand Drive Stormwater project currently under construction with a total project budget of $1,200,000, is part of the overall plan.

While there is a recognition the work is needed, residents along the north side of Pheasant Grove were at Council Monday concerned over the aesthetics of a water ditch basically out their back door.

But that is part of the reality which can occur when situations arise which push certain agendas to the forefront in such a way that may be pushing the planning process. There was a perceived need brought into tighter focus by the dual rain events and the City moved quickly to begin dealing with it, hitting on the highest risk areas where solutions were deemed affordable.

Not everyone is going to be completely satisfied when new pipes are laid and ditches dug, but there remains a need we can remember from the floods of 2010 and 2014. The key though is to make sure the public is kept in the loop in terms of what is going on from the start to the finish of projects needed to deal with potential floods in the future.

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