Petrolia could consider funding fix for standing water at Bridgeview: CAO

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Cattails grow around a children’s climber at Bridgeview Park. Heather Wright Photo

Petrolia’s chief administrative officer says if funding to fix the water problems at Bridgeview Park doesn’t arrive soon, the town may shell out some cash to fix the problem.
Bear Creek runs through one of the town’s premier parks. It’s owned by the St. Clair Conservation Authority because it is a flood plain, but the town maintains the grounds for town use.
On a normal year, it is difficult to maintain in the spring when floodwaters collect around the pavilion and washrooms, but generally by June, town staff can keep the lawn in good condition with a local charity hosting a Father’s Day Car Show by mid-month.
But this year, the use of the park has been severely limited by standing water.
Water has pooled around a kid’s climber for so long, cattails have appeared. There’s also mini wetlands near the permanent washrooms and along the west side of the park.
Kevin Baker of the conservation authority says the park can be expected to be wet because it is a flood plain and it has been very rainy this year. But CAO Manny Baron believes a new drainage pond created two years ago during the first phase of the Petrolia Line reconstruction is to blame for this year’s “terrible” conditions at the park.
Baron says the Ministry of the Environment ordered the town to install the outfall which collects rainwater from the main street and directs it to the holding pond on the outer edge of the park. From there it is supposed to slowly make its way to Bear Creek.
But it hasn’t exactly worked that way. Town staff say the water isn’t moving away soon enough and that means a lot of standing water.Town officials also recently learned there was a small water leak at the washroom facility in the area. They’re investigating now to see if that contributed to to the problem.
The town has been working with the conservation authority on a solution. Baron says there is a plan which would see a series of small ponds along the west side of the park, near the hill, which would theoretically drain the water away faster than the current system.
The conservation authority has the plans waiting and is applying for grants but so far hasn’t been able to obtain funding.
Baron says that means the water remains. “We’re not seeing people enjoy it,” he says. “It is such a great spot and it is a shame.”
Baron wants to see the project move ahead and suggested in an interview with The Independent that town officials may start looking for grant opportunities.
“Maybe even during next year’s budget the town could put some money in for the work.”
And while the MOE demanded the town include the collection pond system – at a cost of over $100,000 – Baron doesn’t expect the town will approach the MOE to find money to help fix the problem caused by the ministry’s solution.
“It’s better to be non-confrontational and get the money through grants. We said our piece at the time.”
Meantime, Baker isn’t sure when funding might be available adding the project has a “considerable cost” and it would be “worth the wait if you can get it.”
And he says even with the proposed fix, the park will likely continue to have water in it.
“That’s what flood plains are designed for… sometimes you have to put up with a bad year to get 10 to 12 good years.”

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