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Mill Creek group reiterates call for action

Ed Faries is leading a group of residents and businessman in Mill Creek Road that have launched a campaign to improve drainage because of repeated flooding as a result of the canal and too much construction in Hamilton. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mill Creek businesses have reiterated calls for action to combat flooding, urging Government to follow the plan that has already been created.

While the Ministry of Public Works last night cited the prohibitive costs of such a project and noted the erection of a sluice gate three years ago to assist, Ed Faries of Tops Ltd said the gate was just one of ten steps recommended in a 2004 study.

“One of the other recommendations in the report is the installation of holding tanks to allow heavy rain to be held and released into the canal over a period of low tides. These still haven’t been built. The flooding at high tide has become significantly worse in the last few years and now it’s dangerous. Furthermore, the wall surrounding the sluice gate has cracks and leaks. Government tried to patch these but leaking is now much worse.

“The ongoing flooding problem has been made worse by systematic failure by the Government to action the ten-point plan from the 2004 Mill Creek Flood Mitigation Study or enforce the Bermuda Plan 2008. The Bermuda Plan 2008 says that the control and disposal of storm water runoff will take place within the boundaries of a site and that no drainage will take place into the Pembroke Canal.

“How can Government not fulfil its own responsibilities and try to lay the resolution of this problem at private property owners’ feet? It is not the properties that are flooding, but rather access to them. The canal and storm water mitigation is Government’s responsibility.”

He also noted that government had recently rebuild the road by Bernard Park in response to flooding in that area rather than address flooding at its source.

“Both sporting facilities on that road are accessible from either end and it does not need to be open for transit in order for individuals to reach their destination,” he said. Further, it was not one of the ten recommendations that came out of its own 2004 report.

“It appears that the Government has discretionary funding for the engineering jobs that it chooses to undertake but it is spending these funds poorly. Why didn’t it close that road allowing access only to the netball court in order to invest in one of the outstanding points on the plan? Investing in the action points from the plan will mitigate flooding for the whole watershed from Parsons Road to Mill Creek.

“Given the long term Government inaction, we met with our own engineers in late 2014 through early 2015 as we wanted to raise the road ourselves, at our own cost. Our engineers advised us that we could not raise the road several feet without the Government reinforcing and raising the canal walls prior to any road-raising initiatives. We explained this clearly to the Minister and his chief engineer during our meeting in July. The Government owns the canal and it is the Minister’s responsibility to upkeep it.

“We are willing to contribute to a solution, but Government needs to take the lead and not kick the can down the road any longer. The Ministry’s statement says that it will create a long-term infrastructure plan to alleviate the water flow, but we want timelines.

“There already is a plan; we don’t need a new one. The Minister promised to come back to us within two weeks of our meeting in July. How much longer are we going to be ignored with empty promises?

“We are not asking the Government to fix our road. We are asking it to take care of its own canal.”