Canada

Île-Bizard flood relief volunteers at odds with borough officials

Île-Bizard flood relief volunteers at odds with borough officials

A week after a sandbag wave barrier was built on Barabé Crescent on Île-Bizard, stagnant water is still pooled in the street.

“The stagnant water is obviously a health hazard,” said Joanna Lemieux who lives at the end of the street.  “It is starting to emanate nasty, foul odours.”

The street sits on the banks of the Lake of Two Mountains and a week ago, waves, driven by strong winds, prompted volunteers to erect a barrier on the street to protect sandbag dikes around the homes. They say they had the borough’s blessing.

“The waves are very powerful,” volunteer Brad Anderson told Global News at the time.  “If you have waves that are one foot high, that’ll easily knock down a sandbag wall if it’s not reinforced properly.”

Once they built the barrier, they wanted to pump the water from the street, over the wave barrier back towards the lake.  But the water wasn’t pumped out.

“They [thought] that we could pump the water out of the street on the other side of the dike, but it didn’t work,” explains Normand Marinacci, borough Mayor for Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève.  “It couldn’t work.”

WATCH: Ile-Bizard residents brace for weeks of high water levels (May 6)

Some residents like Tom Orthwein agree.  He says one pump was brought in to move the water from the street into the lake, but it simply came back through the storm sewers, because the sewers weren’t closed off.

“So even if you were to bring in pumps here in order to bring the water into the lake, it’s useless,” he insists.

Volunteer Scott Leggo, however, says they knew one pump wasn’t going to be enough and that was never the plan.

“It was supposed to be three of those pumps,” he says, “not one.”

Still, even three pumps wouldn’t have been enough, Mayor Marinacci says.

“The dike isn’t waterproof, so the water would just come [back] in.”

But Leggo thinks authorities gave up too easily without trying multiple pumps.  Residents like Lemieux worry about the stagnant water in the street and how that would affect their health.  It’s mixed with sewage, smelly and she want something done fast.

“For right now, open the dike in a few locations and just let the current flow back in so at least the water is circulating,” she says.

That’s one option Marinacci says he’s considering, even though the water is receding.

This isn’t the first time flood volunteers have been at loggerheads with borough officials.  At the beginning of May, volunteers were stopped from building a dike on Joly Street on the island.  Authorities said at the time that the dike would have made matters worse.

This time, both parties agreed on the construction of the Barabé Crescent barrier, but not how that project will end.

But residents say they don’t care how the water leaves the street, as long as it does.  They want their lives back, and are losing patience.

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