Days after the heavy rainfall that caused flooding in the Brampton, Ont. community of Churchville, work continues to make sure the water levels are under control and homes, bridges and roads in the area are safe to use.
Homes in the community, located on the border of the Credit River near Churchville Road and Steeles Avenue, had to be evacuated Feb. 17 following excessive rain that broke up the ice in the river causing an ice jam.
The Churchville Bridge remains closed to vehicular traffic and Creditview Road remains closed with the exception of local traffic.
“Since Friday, Feb. 18, excavators have been onsite to remove an ice jam located at a critical juncture in the Credit River,” a City of Brampton spokesperson said in an email to the Daily Commercial News, adding the area is on a floodplain and can expect higher water levels each year.
The jam was the suspected primary cause of the flooding and heavy equipment was brought in to remove the ice.
“Two excavators continue to remove ice from the river,” the spokesperson stated.
“Three high volume pumps have been operating on an ongoing basis to reduce the flood risk to low-lying residential areas. Ice removal continues safely at this time, until such time that clearing operations are no longer within reach or safe to continue.”
Residents have been able to return to conduct assessments and gather belongings and they are also currently able to return to their homes and work with utilities to reconnect essential services.
In addition to the city, crews from Brampton Fire and Emergency Services, the Brampton Emergency Management Office, public works and engineering staff, Peel Regional Police, Region of Peel and Credit Valley Conservation staff have also been onsite throughout the emergency.
“The city has engaged external contractors to assist with ice removal and running the water pumps and those operators currently remain onsite,” said the spokesperson on Feb. 23.
On Feb. 18 while removing the ice jam at a critical juncture, one of the contracted excavators partially slid into the river, the city reported.
“Brampton Fire and Emergency Services safety teams were onsite and the operator was able to safely exit the equipment without assistance or injury,” stated the spokesperson.
“On Monday, Feb. 21, once water levels receded, the excavator was successfully removed with the assistance of three additional pieces of equipment.”
City of Brampton public works and engineering staff have also conducted a preliminary review of the bridge in the area and are expected to conduct additional analysis in the coming days.
At this point, no construction companies or contractors have been retained to help control the flooding or assist with rebuilding.
“Once ice and water have been removed from all areas, an overall assessment will be undertaken for both repair and restoration of the park and city infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.
Regrading work to the roadway shoulders will also be required during a warmer period.
Patrick McManus, executive director of the Greater Toronto Sewer and Watermain Construction Association, said flooding is becoming more and more common.
Stormwater infrastructure has always been a minor piece of what municipalities have invested in over the years.
“The focus, for obvious reasons on the water side, has always been drinking water and then sanitary and then stormwater,” McManus explained.
“In these past 10 or 15 years, where these once-in-100-year storms are now coming every five years or these once-in-100-year runoffs are coming every five years, it really is highlighting the need for how we have been critically under investing in stormwater infrastructure and how going forward this climate mitigation piece is just so important when considering what and how we build.”
It’s a problem that has grown over the last 50 years.
“This really is still hearkening back to a problem between the ‘70s and ‘90s where we just didn’t invest in the maintenance and rehab of our infrastructure assets,” McManus noted.
“They were out of sight, out of mind so nobody considered the problems despite the fact that our city was growing up. And we’re now playing catch up, tremendous amounts of catch up as the city is expanding around us.
“While the federal and provincial governments are making investments to update infrastructure, it’s not enough to keep up with all the updating and repairs needed.”
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