A packed South Windsor Recreation Centre gym listens as Mayor Drew Dilkens provides a flooding update during a Ward 1 meeting on September 12, 2017. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Residents Get Flooding Update At Ward Meeting

Flooding was the main topic in the first of a series of Windsor ward meetings.

Hundreds filed into the gymnasium at South Windsor Recreation Complex Tuesday for the first ward meeting of the fall. This one concentrated on the residents of Ward 1, which includes much of south Windsor.

Much of the first hour of the meeting was devoted to providing an update on flooding cleanup efforts, not just in Ward One, but throughout the city. Ward 1 Councillor Fred Francis kicked things off, telling the audience he has seen the devastation himself, and understands the emotional toll it’s been having.

“Driving around the neighbourhood, biking around the neighbourhood, running around the neighbourhood, walking around the neighbourhood, and seeing the mountains — of I don’t even want to call it garbage, because I mean for many of you, it’s memories,” says Francis.

Asking for a show of hands, roughly 80% of those attending put them up, indicating that their basements were flooded.

Mayor Drew Dilkens put his hand up as well, and during his presentation assured residents that they were not dealing with it alone.

“We understand how horrible the situation is.  I certainly do,” says Dilkens. “I was out helping people, and my poor wife was downstairs with the squeegee and as many towels as we could muster, and blankets, trying to create berms.  Probably like you were doing in your basement too.”

A check of flooding information on Wednesday afternoon showed that over 6,000 basements across the city had flooding, 1,000 in Ward One alone.

A map provided by the city showed a concentration of flooded homes cutting a straight line from Ward 1 to the Riverside area, where another area of major flooding occurred.

This map, provided by the city of Windsor, shows in dark blue the highest concentrations of flooded homes in the city following the late August storm. 

Francis understands that those attending the meeting are demanding answers, good or bad.

“There are some answers that you might not like,” says Francis. “There are some questions that we don’t have the answers to yet tonight, but I assure you we’ll do what we can to get you those answers, and I’ll do what I can to get you those answers as soon as I can.”

The city’s proposed eight-point plan for flood relief and prevention was discussed, and Dilkens tried to reassure people that the pumps did not fail on the day of the rainfall.  He also repeated the city has spent almost half a billion dollars on its sewer system since 2001. He told the audience there was just too much rain, and no sewer system in Canada could have kept up.

Following the presentation, the audience was able to approach city representatives one-on-one with their questions.

While flooding was the big story at the meeting, police protection, taxes and playgrounds were also among the topics discussed.

The next ward meeting is set for Thursday in Ward 6, another area where flooding was severe.

Ward Six Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac will host the meeting from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the WFCU Centre’s Collavino Hall.