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Brockton, Ont., looks to DMAF for erosion control funding

July 24, 2023 
By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Brockton, Ont., Council has approved a grant application to the federal disaster mitigation and adaptation fund for Valleyside Drive erosion control.

The $8.5 million (plus HST) project would involve protecting the toe and cutting back the slope along the cliff in Walkerton.

Fiona Hamilton, director of legislative and legal services, said in her report to council July 11 that staff will also obtain a second opinion by a geotechnical engineer on the existing information.

The erosion of the cliff in the area of Valleyside Drive in Walkerton is a problem that has been 40 years in the making. Mayor Chris Peabody said in an interview prior to a council meeting Jan. 10 that mistakes made by past councils are coming back to haunt today’s decision makers.


He explained that back in the 1980s, the council of the day had been advised to stabilize the slope prior to construction, but let the developer go ahead without stabilization.

He noted, “It was a bad decision, and it’s coming home to roost… Erosion is occurring at a rate of half a metre per year.”

On Jan. 10, council heard a presentation from BM Ross on the environmental assessment process associated with addressing the erosion. A number of affected residents attended the council meeting.

Five alternatives were presented, with various costs, along with pros and cons: protect the toe and cut back the slope ($7.8 million plus HST); realign the river and regrade the slope by filling (greater than $7.8 million plus HST); realign the river, protect the toe, and complete filling and cutting (greater than $7.8 million plus HST); protect the toe of the slope and leave bank ($3.1 million plus HST) or do nothing (which would still include ongoing monitoring as well as other actions).

The recommended approach and the one endorsed by council at that time was to protect the toe of the slope and leave the bank, as it was the most cost-effective solution that addressed the problem and minimized impacts to adjacent properties.

BM Ross had indicated some additional feedback including from the geotechnical engineers and comments were required before the EA could be completed. Geotechnical engineers study soils under the influence of loading forces and soil-water interactions.

After the meeting, the geotechnical engineers – WSP – expressed concerns with the preferred alternative, and were instructed to complete a more detailed analysis.

Hamilton’s report stated that while a final report has not yet been provided, WSP has suggested that protecting the toe may not stop slippages from the slope above, making it difficult to protect workers during construction, and prevent damage to the toe protection.

As a result, WSP is in support of the first alternative – protecting the toe and cutting back the slope above.

Given the increased cost of this option, a second opinion by a geotechnical engineer is recommended. This information should be available in September.

In the meantime, staff have been looking at applicable grants, the most promising of which is the federal government’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. It’s aimed at projects that protect against the impacts of climate change, including natural hazards like erosion and flooding.

Coun. Tim Elphick commented that while he supports the recommendation, the total amount that’s recoverable through the fund would be 40 per cent, with the municipality responsible for the rest. He finds that “concerning.”

Hamilton’s report recommended applying for the grant based on option one – $7.8 million plus HST, increased to $8.5 million due to inflation. Should lower cost option four still be deemed viable, the project scope could be amended.

The deadline to apply for the fund is July 19.

According to the report, in addition to applying for funding, the municipality will be seeking “letters of support and/or strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority and the Lake Huron Fishing Club (from a previous successful partnership for the removal of the Truax Dam).”

Staff also would apply to the Bruce Power environment and sustainability fund.

Pauline Kerr is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Walkerton Herald Times.

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