Saturday, February 27, 2021

State of Emergency ends on Erie Shore Drive

The State of Emergency declared at the end of February on Erie Shore Drive is over.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff officially terminated the emergency on Thursday, April 9.

“This emergency was related to lands that could be affected by flooding, including Erie Shore Drive, plus the low lying lands behind the dike and those portions of Erieau Road,” Canniff stated in a press release.

Based on information received by the municipality back in February, it was announced that there was an elevated possibility of failure of a portion of the Erie Shore Drive dike.

Fast forward to March 2, Chatham-Kent Council unanimously agreed to close Erie Shore Drive until further notice.

A lengthy debate took place at the Civic Centre in Chatham, which included a total of 12 deputations from members of the community impacted by the decision.

West Kent Councillor Melissa Harrigan entered a successful motion for staff to adopt a bylaw to provide for the temporary closing of part of Erie Shore Drive in Harwich, effective March 9, 2020, until further notice.

Council also agreed to delegate to the General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services the authority to complete all work and to make all necessary purchases to respond to unstable conditions on the Erie Shore Road and dike during the initial phase of the work.

Council also agreed to waive all requirements of the Chatham-Kent Purchasing by-law in relation to these purchases.

Harrigan also successfully moved to have administration bring a report back to Council within eight weeks, on or before April 27, 2020, including the following options:

– Preparing alternative access via a newly constructed road.

– Buy-out of property owners affected by the road closure.

– Introducing further permanent closure of Erie Shore Drive.

– Any other creative options.

Harrigan also successfully directed administration to advise the province, including all necessary ministers and the premier, of this emergency and the hardship being endured by the impacted residents and property owners.

Council also directed administration to take any and all steps necessary to have the province partner with the people of Chatham-Kent for the resolution of this matter.

“Including significant financial contribution since the Chatham-Kent municipality cannot afford to fix this problem,” Harrigan said in her motion.

“Administration to consider all options and bring a report to Council regarding steps taken and proposed next steps. Administration continue to work with the Erie Shore Drive Property Owners Association to promote transparency and dialogue, and identify a plan for how homeowners to protect their personal property,” Harrigan added.

During the April 6, 2020 electronic Council meeting, the following recommendations were approved by Council:

1. To provide owners access to their properties along Erie Shore Drive, Council approve the attached by-law to reopen Erie Shore Drive as a one way, local traffic only road with associated restrictions, as a short-term solution.

2. Council delegate authority to the General Manager, IES, to install additional traffic calming measures along Erie Shore Drive (if necessary).

3. Based on scheduling challenges, the long term proposal for Erie Shore Drive will be presented and discussed at the May 4th, 2020 Council meeting, along with the Zuzek “Chatham-Kent Lake Erie Shoreline Study” instead of the originally proposed April 27th, 2020 date.

Watch for more on this story leading up to the May 4, 2020 Council meeting.

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