Former planning consultant says Minden floodplain not properly identified 0
Minden Hills's former planning consultant presented a paper with suggestions for mitigating future flooding in Minden to members of the township's council at their July 25 meeting.
Heather Sadler believes the floodplain for the Gull River is not properly identified in the official plan for Minden Hills.
She is the principal of EcoVue Consulting Services, a Lakefield-based firm that did consulting for Minden Hills for a number of years.
The township has stopped using its services.
At the start of her presentation, Sadler, who identified herself as a weekend resident of the township, said she'd created the 15-page document as a gift to Minden Hills, her donation to flood relief.
Sadler has floodplain planning experience, having been involved with planning for the Otonabee River.
“This paper has been prepared, as a donation to the municipality, to provide assistance to the Township of Minden Hills and its residents regarding the flooding that has occurred and more importantly, what can be done in the future,” the paper reads. “We simply hope that the information will assist the municipality with this ongoing issue.”
The report looks at the history of flooding in Minden, including major floods in 1913, 1928, 1929, 1943, 1951 and 1983.
Floodplain mapping for the Gull River was completed through the Ontario Flood Damage Reduction Program in 1988, extending from the bottom of Minden Lake north of the village to the river's outflow into Gull Lake to the south.
“During our tenure as planning consultants for the Township of Minden Hills, we noted that there are a number of technical errors associated with the delineation of the floodplain on the zoning schedules for the Gull River,” Sadler wrote in the report, noting these included partial line segments that do not reflect the topographic contours used in generating the maps and a failure to properly identify the flood fringe.
Floodplains consist of two areas – a floodway and a flood fringe.
A floodway is the area where water collects and pools during flooding and where no development or site alteration should occur.
A flood fringe is an area where development and site alteration may occur, subject to restrictions.
According to Sadler, the township's official plan does not accurately reflect the flood fringe.
“EcoVue is concerned that the planning documents (official plan and zoning bylaw) which the municipality relies on as tools for flood plain management do not reflect the extent of flood risk which affects the community,” her report read. “The most recent flood event provided tangible evidence for the importance of accurate mapping and sound policies for management of land uses within the flood prone areas of the village of Minden.”
According to Sadler, floodway policies that were in the previous draft of the official plan were removed in the most recent draft.
Amendments to the official plan were passed by Minden Hills councillors at last week's meeting and ultimately require approval at the county level.
As for the township's zoning bylaw, Sadler wrote:
“The mapping should clearly show that the area included in the flood fringe of the Gull River is subject to flooding, including Prince Street, Chandos Street, St. Germaine, Water Street, Bobcaygeon Road, Invergordon Avenue, Anson Street, Peck Street, McKnight Drive and Orde Street. Flood proofing elevations should be included for all areas within the delineated flood fringe of the Gull River, to assist the municipality’s planning and building division in ensuring that proper floodproofing measures are undertaken in for properties within the flood fringe.”
Sadler also told councillors that under provincial regulations, the township's fire hall should not be located within the floodplain and suggested Minden Hills take the opportunity to move its fire hall to the site of a new EMS base the county is building on Highway 35.
Minden Hills has partnered with the county on expenses for some preliminary studies, but has not made a commitment to build at the site.
During the flood, the fire department fleet was moved to the police station on the highway.
Chris Jones, the planner who's been working on the updated draft official plan, was in council chambers last week and took issue with some of Sadler's comments.
Jones said in his opinion the draft plan was not a delineation from provincial regulations, noted the draft did identify the floodway and said it left room for the inclusion of the flood fringe, a recommendation he'd made before the spring.
“Within the flood frames, there can be consideration for development,” he said. “The current official plan does not take us away from two-zone planning.”
Reeve Barb Reid thanked Sadler for her presentation.
Sadler thanked the township for hearing her.
“I know there was a reluctance to let me speak at first,” she said.
Initially, Sadler had requested to make a delegation at the June council meeting and sent an email to the township inquiring why her name had not appeared on the agenda.
“We did receive your request to be a delegation too late for this upcoming meeting,” Minden Hills chief administrative officer Nancy Wright-Laking responded in an email to Sadler. “You did provide it to all of council and I am sure if they are interested in hearing from you, they will advise and I will contact you.”
The procedural bylaw on the township's website reads that requests for delegations be made by noon on the sixth day prior to a meeting, a deadline which Sadler said she made.
In another email, Wright-Laking told Sadler the schedule for submissions had been changed in July of 2012.
The township confirmed to the Times in mid-July that Sadler would be on last week's agenda, though Sadler said she was only informed the day before that she was included in the meeting.