Excessive water laying around Vale Island after last week’s rainfall is leading some Lakeshore Drive neighbours to ask the town to do more to upgrade the area.
Jordan Groenewegen, a resident who has lived on Lakeshore Drive since 1985 near the Hay River Territorial Park by the public beach overlooking Great Slave Lake, provided the Hay River Hub a tour of the area on July 25.
He showed how some of the water has made it difficult for him to access his home by vehicle, has led to flooding on his property and has stretched into nearby campsites in the park.
“I just find it frustrating because I like to walk my dog in the morning and walk down my road without having to put rubber boots on,” he said. “Feet get muddy. You track it into the house. I knew when I moved down here, that it was a gravel road, but you want to be able to leave your yard without having to walk through a lake of water.”
His home is on pilings and the area is on a high water table, but he said over the decades that he has lived in the area, he hasn’t seen the amount of water being leftover like he has this summer.
“This isn’t a yearly problem,” he said. “We have had abnormal amounts of rain in this area for probably the last three to four years. People say, ‘well the ground is drenched from the rain’ and that is fine. But it’s a different thing when you have to actually drive through it to get to your house. It just doesn’t seem like there’s a ton of urgency to do anything about it.”
Groenewegen said that he and his family and his mother Jane, who lives at the lot next door, have to date patiently taken the flooding as one-off incidents. However, this year, when the spring melt didn’t drop into the ground as normal but stayed around for weeks, he said it became obvious that there is a larger problem at work.
When the road was washed out again after last week’s rain, they both called for the municipality to do more to resolve the issue.
“Everyone’s going to have a different take on it but I believe that when our mill rate here is the same tax rate that residents in town are paying, there’s a certain level of expectation (of municipal service),” he said.
“Obviously, if it did it just once in a freak rainstorm, it might fill up a little bit, but normally it sinks into the ground. We’ve got a real good couple days of rain down here but in the past you’d never have a situation like this.”
Specifically the Groenewegens are calling for the road to be built up higher and potentially other infrastructure upgrades added like the addition of a culvert with a pump to help push the water to the lake.
Joy Stewart another longtime owner of property on Lakeshore for about 30 years agrees that the situation is historic and called it “craziness.”
“I’ve never seen (flooding) like this ever,” she said. “It is just a little lake. You can’t call it a puddle. And you can’t even see the road. You don’t know if you are on the road. It has to be about two-and-a-half feet deep.”
“We are tax payers down here and if it was happening in the new town I wonder how much it would go one without the town pumping or doing something.”
Flooding hasn’t reached her property but she said the situation needs to be investigated to figure out what is causing so much water to be left around.
“This whole area is in trouble and I don’t see movement on rectifying it.”
Glenn Smith, senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River said that the municipality is aware of high water levels along the road, throughout Vale Island and other areas in town.
“Lake, standing water, and ground water levels are extremely high this year which is causing drainage limitations,” he said. “Recent high amounts of rain water have compounded the problem throughout lower areas of Vale Island. The Town has been responding to many water related problems this season which has included repairs to parts of Lakeshore Drive.”
Smith said that the municipality is working with the GNWT departments of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Environment and Natural Resources as it comes to water concerns on 106 Ave, Lakeshore Drive and other areas on the island.
“Excavation of beaver dams in the area, which may or may not be contributing to drainage issues, has occurred earlier this year and the Town continues to work with ENR and federal bodies to support this activity,” he said. “Water pumping has previously been completed in some areas of Vale Island but needs to be in compliance with regulatory requirements.”