Ditch no salve to soggy backyards in Pitt Meadows

Residents seek to make drainage an election issue

Jim Colquhoun stand behind his house on Wildwood Crescent

Leslie Colquhoun had hoped her backyard would no longer be a boggy mess.

But as the autumn rains started falling, she watched in dismay as water pooled behind her home on Wildwood Crescent in Pitt Meadows, and her dogs Nico and Angus sank “up to their knees” into the muck.

The ditch behind her house just isn’t draining water.

“I knew it wouldn’t,” she said, pointing accusingly to an asphalt bike and foot path behind a thicket of dying trees.

The City of Pitt Meadows spent $14,250 this summer to dig a shallow trench behind several homes in the 19800-block of Wildwood, a sum that included having engineering firm ISL design it.

The ditch was dug near the paved trail, which residents believe is trapping water behind their homes.

That belief, however, is counter to an engineering study conducted by the City of Pitt Meadows, which found the recreation trail constructed as part of the Golden Ears Bridge project is not affecting sub-surface drainage.

The flooding, it suggested, was most likely being caused by “natural ponding” due to an undulating or rolling terrain.

But as the Nov. 30 warranty period to address defects or deficiencies related to Golden Ears Bridge project, including the Wildwood trail, approaches, residents want it extended.

Colquhoun has lived on Wildwood Crescent for 32 years and never had pooling water on her property until a trail was built behind it.

The City of Pitt Meadows has already spent more than $32,000 assessing drainage along the trail and digging the shallow ditch while TransLink spent between $40,000 or $60,000 to build a drain behind the property of one resident – Mike Stark.

Stark, who is now seeking a seat on city council, said the 122-metre French drain (a trench covered with gravel or rock that redirects surface and groundwater away from an area) solved his drainage problems.

It’s an expensive solution that the city and TransLink are reluctant to expand.

TransLink points to the city’s Thurber Engineering study, which found the path has not affected drainage, to support its stance.

The city has absolved TransLink of all its responsibility with the study, said Stark.

“We are still wondering why they are protecting TransLink and not protecting the residents. TransLink should be paying for this, not me. I’d rather spread this over TransLink’s tax base than spread it over Pitt Meadows tax base.”

Coun. John Becker, running for mayor this election, understands that residents are frustrated and just want to vent.

The residents want the city to get the Nov. 30 warranty deadline extended, but Becker explained all the city has to do is bring the defects concerning the path and drainage, including a collapsed culvert on Airport Way, to TransLink’s attention. “The only obligation of the city is to identify the drainage as an outstanding piece of work and that we are not satisfied with it, leaving it to TransLink to agree and disagree.”

Mayor Don MacLean would like the neighbourhood to give the ditch dug behind Wildwood Crescent a chance to work by waiting for a torrential downpour.

“Between TransLink and the city, we’ve spent close to a $100,000 on this issue,” he points out.

“Let’s really test it in severe [weather] conditions. If the backyards still appear wet, maybe we have to go further.”

Others councillors, though, including Bruce Bell, Doug Bing and Gwen O’Connell, want the city to delay any sign-off with TransLink.

“I think it’s foolhardy to sign off when the residents have expressed obvious displeasure with what has happened,” said Bing.

“We have to find some kind of solution that satisfies the residents.”

Coun. Deb Walters, who is up against Becker for the mayor’s position, also agrees.

“We can’t sign off on Nov. 30 because we haven’t even entered the rainy season,” said Walters.

“Let’s see the performance of these ditches through a winter season, if they perform, fine. If they don’t, then we need to resolve it.”

Walters wants the drainage issues along the trail and Airport Way brought to the attention of TransLink and a commitment to fix it.

“It has to be on record that we are not satisfied with the workmanship and that we can come back at anytime and say you’ve got to fix it.

“Our taxpayers should not be financially responsible,” she said.

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