John Michael, seen here when his property flooded in 2020, is once again dealing with water encroaching on his home.

When it comes to keeping his home above water, John Michael wants the city to come up with a long-term solution.

According to Michael, the city needs to do something to help address ongoing flooding to his property at the end of 4th Avenue East, as well as to other properties located along the easternmost part of the community. An improper drainage system, he said, combined with several days of prolonged rainfall in recent weeks have created chaos in terms of the amount of water that has backed up into his backyard, and which now threatens to encroach on his home.

“Right now, the water is in my yard and my shed is flooding,” Michael told Northern Pride. “It’s not in the house yet, but I suspect it will start coming in soon. There is water right by the door.”

Michael believes the problem is not being caused by high water in Meadow Lake itself, but rather from rainwater that is unable to properly drain into the nearby Meadow River or into the lake because there’s simply so much of it. He also said a dirt pile between the nearby properties and the lake as the result of the development of four nearby ponds also contributes to the excess water’s inability to properly drain.

“This (flooding) has happened ever since they built those ponds – there’s supposed to be a berm of some sort on the other side, but there’s just a pile of dirt,” he said.

The house was built in 1950 and once belonged to Michael’s father-in-law.

“My wife was born and raised here, and, yes, they have had problems (with water) before, but nothing like what is happening now,” Michael added.

Michael went on to say he has reached out to the city on numerous occasions over the years to express his concerns and ask for a more permanent solution to his problem. Most recently, he reached out to the newest member of city council, Marty Bishop.

“I had an interesting conversation with John Michael recently,” Bishop stated during council’s June 27 meeting. “He’s flooding really bad there. The water is right up to the back of his house. I went down there, sat with him, visited him and he showed me a bunch of correspondence he has regarding what’s going on there. I told him he needs to realize he’s sitting in the lowest part of the city, so, when there’s a flood, it’s probably going to affect him before anybody.”

While Michael is aware of that, Bishop believes he has grown frustrated because a long-term solution has yet to be found.

“One of his complaints was people from the city will come and look at the problem and say they’re going to try to do something, but nobody ever does,” Bishop noted. “He never hears from them.”

Mayor Merlin Seymour suggested Bishop should not have visited Michael’s property when invited.

“The proper channel is – rather than you going and looking at it – you ask him to talk to Diana (city manager Diana Burton),” Seymour said.

Burton also commented on the situation, stating Michael’s correspondence has been received and he has been advised the city will review it.

“He has also received a lot of assistance from both public works and the fire department during my time here when his property is flooding,” Burton said. “His property is located in the floodplain, so what the city is able to do to assist is going to be questionable. Realistically, if flood mapping had been done at the time the property was built, no one would have built there.”

Bishop, meanwhile, said he will continue to meet with residents when they contact him with legitimate concerns.

“As a councillor, I went and looked,” he said. “That’s my job, to go see what is going on. I believe he is frustrated. If you keep promising you’re going to take a look and nothing gets done, that’s very frustrating because he’s waiting for that.”

Seymour replied by stating it’s best to leave certain matters to the experts.

“I’m not saying you can’t go and have a look at it, but in the last two weeks I’ve probably received about six phone calls about different things, and I direct the caller to contact public works or to contact administration,” he said. “I’m not an engineer. Say a hydrant is leaking. I’m not going to go dig it out because I don’t know how to do that. That’s not what I do, so I pass it on and trust it’s being dealt with.”

As for Michael, he said the public works department has been very helpful.

“They gave us some sandbags which we placed around our shed and our hose, but that’s only a temporary solution,” he said. “There’s too much water.”

by Phil Ambroziak