There’s another reason I’ll be signing the register in opposition to Hudson’s loan bylaw 687 next Tuesday.
We have no idea of the cost of repairing the Brookside and Viviry culverts under Cameron.
Clearly, one of the two main arteries in and out of town is at risk as long as the failed Pine Lake dam and both culverts are not removed and replaced.
If it comes to a choice between $500,000 for a renovated Community Centre and an unknown bill for a secure Cameron, which would be the sensible option?
Traffic on Cameron was squeezed to a single lane since the previous Friday after it was discovered that heavy rains had collapsed a section of the shoulder atop the Brookside culvert.
Last Thursday, April 13, Cameron was closed in both directions between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. so emergency repairs could be made to the culvert and roadbed between Brookside Pond and Pine Flats.
The current administration has long feared that if Pine Lake regains its former size as a result of heavy rains or runoff, the increased water pressure and volume could easily carry the dam away — and Cameron with it.
I asked Hudson director-general Jean-Pierre Roy how the town proposes to pay for repairs to the Brookside culvert and whether emergency repairs could be extended to include the larger culvert under Cameron next to the failed Pine Lake dam.
“These repairs were urgent, necessitated by runoff,” Roy said in an emailed response to my questions. “The [Brookside] culvert was under increased surveillance for the past several months and we had publicly noted its fragile state several months back.
“We [had] no choice but to proceed with immediate emergency work without a council resolution,” Roy said. “We have advised our insurers, we will be applying to Sécurité civile for financial assistance of approximately 60% of the cost.”
The Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC has authorized the work being done, he added. “We could also use a portion of the TECQ [ the fuel excise tax rebate available to municipalities].”
The town has been keeping its fingers crossed for months, Roy explained. Engineers had already been planning to install a replacement as soon as a reduction in the flow of water from Black Creek allowed, usually in the fall.
“We had hoped to repair this culvert as part of the $1.5M [road repair] loan bylaw against which a complaint had been made and was consequently suspended by ministry authorities. We had wanted to avoid having to repave the same sector twice.”
Roy termed the volume of runoff “exceptional,” threatening both the Brookside culvert and the footbridge that connects Jack Layton Park with the Sandy Beach nature trail.
“We couldn’t wait any longer. The break was caused by water. The culvert was old but without the increased volume we could have done the work together with other work in an efficient manner.”
Plans to install the replacement culvert will be finalized once the town receives authorization from the environment ministry, recommendations from the engineering consultants and authorization from the MRC, Roy said.
I visited the scene of the crime last week, the day before Cameron was closed for emergency repairs. Last week’s rains appeared to have washed right through a rusted-out section of the 24-inch galvanized steel pipe draining Black Creek under Cameron into Pine Lake. The culvert was installed in 1961, when Cameron was extended through the woods up to Harwood to create the Fairhaven development.
The lake itself made a guest appearance, to the delight of passersby and nesting geese, who will be sorely disillusioned when the floodwaters recede. The 2014 AMEC hydrological study showed the Viviry acts as a retention basin that can contain more than 16,000 cubic metres of water during the spring runoff.
The Viviry collects the runoff from a watershed of 13.9 square kilometres stretching south to Ste. Angèlique, west to the Fief and east to Bellevue. AMEC estimated the theoretical 100-year flood of water through the dam culvert under Cameron at 26 cubic feet per second per foot, enough to make quick work of what remains of the Pine Lake dam.
In its report, AMEC refers to the galvanized iron culvert under Cameron but makes no mention of its condition or the volume of water it conveys. Black Creek drains a 2.8-square-kilometre watershed.
The EXP study conducted in early 2014 proposed five scenarios for Pine Lake. They ranged from $148,000 for the demolition and removal of the dam all the way to its replacement with a new dam for $481,504. That included $73,584 for contingencies and $40,000 for the engineering and lab tests.
That August, the current administration adopted a $750,000 loan bylaw to cover the cost of repairs to the dam. Repairs to Cameron and the two culverts were not included because the administration felt it could access government funds.
The loan bylaw was withdrawn after a sufficient number of residents, concerned at effectively presenting council with a blank cheque of up to $750,000, signed a register to force a referendum.
It’s a sad commentary on this administration that it can’t get borrowing or zoning bylaws passed without a big drama. Could it be because residents require more transparency and frankness than our current council is willing to provide? I refuse to accept the alternative explanation that we should shut up and suspend our collective disbelief. Hudson tried that for half a century. We know how that turned out.
This post was rewritten to correct certain facts regarding the 2014 loan bylaw to replace the Pine Lake dam, but not to repair the two culverts and Cameron.