And they want to add to the original problem without fixing it, despite promises. We refer to the recent advertisement that proclaims that the Town of Cobourg has received an application to develop a strip pf land that is now zoned “Open Space and Environmental Constraint”. Located on the South side of Nickerson Woods in the D’Arcy Elgin area.
Bit of background on this development: a long established piece of land developed by local builders Bob Haynes and Al LeBlanc in the early 90s, Bob is now living in the Kingston area after selling his last successful development to VanDyck after splitting with Al many years ago, Al is still developing what land he has left in the Densmore Rd area but has always tried to develop this patch. He was successful years ago in getting planning permission for the houses he did build but it was a struggle because the land sits in a flood plain and has been identified as “Environmental constraint” in the OP for decades. Previous Councils defined the boundaries years ago and the question to be asked now as he wants to build is “What has changed to redefine the boundary?”
Nothing has changed for the good, in fact flooding conditions have become worse. Subsequent building in the Elgin St. area below the St Mary’s School necessitated the construction of a spillway and retention ponds to slow down the rate of flooding in that area. Severe flooding in the MidTown Creek is a regular occurrence every twenty years or so because of the combination of rainfall and frozen ground (read the GRCA comments about the flood here). Spillways don’t work well when iced over and especially this one, the one that flows around the LeBlanc Corporate HQ at Elgin and Birchwood, because of the two right angles in the design.
Read about the most recent flood in 2010 in this NorthumberlandToday article here A most distressing time for those unlucky people caught in the three foot high water. An earlier flood occurred in 1986. So these freaks of nature are frequent and deadly. In the aftermath of these happenings the Council of the day received remedial plans and these plans have yet to be implemented.
But these plans assumed that the boundaries of the Flood Plain would not be tampered with. The new application proposes that 24 condominiums be built up to the backyards for the existing dwellings to be accessed by a laneway, all encroaching into the Open-Space. Obviously building on this land will reduce the amount of land that could hold water. But if the water in a flash flood is contained in a smaller area the velocity of the water as it travels toward the Elgin Division St intersection will increase therefore the anticipated future flooding, in the same weather conditions as 2010, could be worse. In that case why should any more dwellings be built if the conditions have not been improved?
So what happens now? The notice has been published, the Planning Department will produce a report, complete with bureaucratic language that approves it, after all Mr LeBlanc has contributed the maximum amount to many selected Council members in Municipal Elections in the past. So we see that Mr LeBlanc is a valued member of Cobourg’s development industry and has friends on Council so why wouldn’t his applications get a smooth ride? But on this one he will have to pull all the political strings he can to get approval because of entrenched boundaries and the risk of greater flooding due to subsequent building downstream. But after the application notice the application and the Staff report go to the Planning and Advisory Committee. This committee has few experienced members who would challenge the report as well as a neophyte coordinator. We wish them luck and courage but advise them all to ask for the flooding reports of the past and ask the simple question – what happens in the case of a flood and more importantly why must the boundaries be moved – other than for commercial gain.
Also as a word of warning to Council expect homeowners to appear before you on this one. They have objected every time this application is broached – a classic NIMBY situation and a worthy one as we see it. For the last public comment on this from the homeowners and Mr LeBlanc read this.