Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Municipal Drain Policies Approved

You may recall that last fall Town Staff sent out several notices requesting payment for maintenance done on some of the Town’s Municipal Drains. There were many questions about the bills and Staff even had to correct some bills.

Council listened to these concerns and directed Staff to hold an Open House in October to answer any questions or concerns.

As a follow-up, Council directed Staff to re-examine and revise the Town’s Municipal Drain policies and procedures. Council approved those policy changes on May 2.

A Municipal Drain is a legislated drainage system for a sub-watershed within the Town. Most municipal drains are either open ditches or closed systems such as pipes or tiles buried in the ground. While Municipal Drains are primarily located in rural agricultural areas, they can also drain parts of the Town’s urban areas. Some Municipal Drains could also include structures such as storm water detention ponds, culverts and bridges.

A Town may only create a Municipal Drain under the authority of the Drainage Act. Municipal Drains include three-key elements.

Community Project: Landowners who need to solve a drainage problem may submit a petition under the Drainage Act to request the establishment of a municipal drain. If certain criteria are met, the Town appoints an engineer to prepare a report, identifying the proposed solution to the problem and how the costs will be shared. The Act outlines various meetings and appeal stages before the community project can be approved.

Legal Solution: After any appeals, the municipality passes a by-law, adopting the solution. The municipality then has the authority and responsibility to construct the drain. The cost of the work is assessed to the lands in the watershed in the same ratios as contained within the engineer's report.

Municipal Infrastructure: Once constructed, a Municipal Drain becomes part of that municipality's infrastructure. The Town, through our drainage superintendent, is responsible for repairing and maintaining the municipal drain.

The new Municipal Drain Maintenance and Billing policy aims to ensure that drain maintenance and billing occurs in a consistent, fair and timely manner; this policy includes the provision that the Town must hold an annual Open House to inform the community about Municipal Drainage matters.

The new Municipal Drain Re-Apportion of Assessment policy helps ensure that the Town follows prescribed mechanisms to re-apportion the assessment of properties within a municipal drain watershed when lots are created or amended.

(To review the new policies, please click here.)

Thanks to those who worked together with the Town to improve our policies and procedures on this very important part of our Town’s infrastructure.