Here is an example of the erosion at the back of a property located on Welland Street in the City of Pembroke.
Tina Peplinskie / jpg, PM
With approximately 70 properties in the city impacted by erosion around Moffat’s Point, council has directed staff to submit an application for federal funding.With a total cost of $25.9 million estimated for the Moffat Street slope stability project, it falls within the minimum threshold of $20 million under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), a $2 billion federal program over 10 years offered through Infrastructure Canada.Pembroke council held a special council meeting July 26 as staff sought direction on the submission because of a short timeline. The application process is in two parts – first an expression of interest and the second being a full project application, with an Aug. 1 deadline to submit both parts of the application.The erosion of the bank along the Indian River began in 2017 as a result of high water levels damaging properties along Moffat Street and with the even higher water levels experienced in 2019 additional properties along Margaret, Welland, Norman and Carmody Streets, as well as River Road have also been eroding, Brian Lewis, manager of operations for the city told council during the special meeting.Part of the requirement of the program is that the municipality owns the lands in question, which would require the city to purchase an estimated 4.94 acres of property now in private hands. Lewis noted the purchase of the property is an eligible expense under the program.The total project cost of $25.9 million, 40 per cent of which could be covered by the federal government should this application successful, includes $15 million for erosion remediation; $5 million for erosion mitigation of potential future slides; $3 million for engineering, design, project management, contract administration and contingency; $2.5 million on flood mitigation measures in the Doran and McGee Street areas; $200,000 for property acquisition (two kilometres by 10 metres wide) and and additional $100,000 in associated costs such as lawyers and $100,000 for a land survey.Under the current funding formula (40 per cent federal and 60 per cent municipality) this project could cost the city $15.5 million with $10.4 million coming from the federal government.There are currently no provincial government funding programs available to assist with this project.Earlier this year, MPP John Yakabuski, minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and MPP Steve Clark, the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, toured the Moffat Street area so they are aware of the scope of the project.Mayor Mike LeMay indicated he recently spoke with Yakabuski and although the MPP cannot make any financial commitments on behalf of the provincial government, he understands municipalities cannot afford a project of this scope without financial assistance from both levels of government.“I think the province is on our side,” the mayor said. “They are not naive. They know there’s no way a municipality our size could afford the type of mitigation we are looking at here.”LeMay is in favour of seeing the federal funding application prepared and submitted.“We are still waiting for the results of what is going on with our study,” he added. “We can always say no later but I am not prepared to throw all of those properties under the bus at this stage of the game. I think we have to at least ask for it.”Coun. Andrew Plummer admitted he was concerned about the $15 million price tag for the city especially as it is spending tax dollars on a select number of properties.“Spending $15.5 of taxpayer money to buy private properties with slope instability is more than we can ask our ratepayers to do,” he said.He is in favour of submitting the application as well but said with the current numbers he would not be in favour of seeing the project go any further without the support of the provincial government.Coun. Brian Abdallah and Ed Jacyno were also in favour of submitting the funding application. Deputy Mayor Ron Gervais and Coun. Pat Lafreniere were not at the meeting.Earlier this year, the city was successful in its application for funding under the fourth intake of the National Disaster Mitigation Program which was supported by the province of Ontario. This funding was used to secure the services of Gemtec Consulting Engineers and Scientists which is currently conducting its investigations in anticipation the firm will provide council with a full report of its findings this fall. Lewis noted the consultants have been in a boat in the area in question taking photos and video of the soil conditions, flew over the area with LIDAR and conducted a topographical study to gain a better understanding of the area.The city was also unsuccessful in its application for funding under the National Disaster Mitigation Program for small-scale structural mitigation, which was an application for design and construction work.TPeplinskie@postmedia.comTwitter.com/TPeplinskie