High waves in Leamington cause flooding June 27, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Franny Gaudreau)

Record Year For Breakwall Repairs

The Essex Region Conservation Authority says it’s getting a lot more applications from lakeside residents who want to fix break walls.

Director of Watershed Management Services Tim Byrne says over 700 permits were approved this year.

“It was a record year for approvals,” he says. “Within that is also the normal work that we deal with; development reviews and home protection. But, a significant volume were people coming forward to upgrade their protective systems.”

Residents living along Lake Erie have had to contend with repeated flooding this past couple years and Byrne says it’s not good for the footings and foundations of homes along the shore. However, repairing protective systems isn’t cheap and can run homeowners tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why the authority is renewing its call for the province to reinstate its Shoreline Property Assistance program. Homeowners can borrow money from their municipality for repairs and pay it back through their property taxes over an extended period.

“The program was not funded as a result of lack of uptake,” says Byrne. “We were into low lake levels. People tend not to worry about protecting their property’s break walls.”

After two harsh winters, Byrne says lake levels are up significantly, reaching above levels recorded in 1998 this past August and September. He thinks more homeowners would take advantage of the program now.