A family’s long battle with Saanich over a $ 300,000 municipal stormwater pipe ended this week after the council agreed to allow them to pursue another option.
On Jan. 11 the council voted 5-4 to allow Michelle and Simon Gowing to install an infiltration ditch on their property instead of connecting their new home to the Saanich storm system.
Michelle said the vote “should have been really mindless” as they had provided research and justifications for their plans.
Gowings attended the phone call and talked at length about the battles since buying a home on Ernest Ave. 1971. Many neighbors also clashed – some for and some against the gap plan.
The couple bought their home in the summer of 2019 and during the renovations it became clear that the foundation had been broken and the house was not stable. They demolished it to rebuild.
While consulting with the Saanich Engineering Department, Gowings was told the new home would be required to be connected to the municipal storm drain. Since there is no municipal storm pipe on Ernest Road, Gowings was expected to pay $ 300,000 to dig the road and install one.
It was frustrating to hear, but even more boring to find out that they could not mortgage the infrastructure because it would be installed on property they do not own.
“If the pipe had existed, we would have been fixed, but it is not there,” Michelle said.
After weighing their options and advising engineers, the family chose an infiltration ditch – a narrow rock pit that helps excess water seep into the ground – to manage storm water on site. The concept was listed on the Saanich County website as a best practices for stormwater management, but the application was rejected in early 2020. Gowings chose to pursue a development mismatch permit rather than pursue the matter. in court.
By filing their non-compliance claim in the spring of 2020, Gowings was told the approval could take 18 months. This is when the family went public and received great support from the community.
On Monday, the council approved the request to build the infiltration gap – subject to approval by the engineering department, provisions for tree protection and a covenant that removes Saanich from legal risk. Tips. Nathalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau, Judy Brownoff and Susan Brice objected.
Councilor Karen Harper, called the settlement a victory because it allows Gowings to build their home, protects the county and allows a rainwater management system that will replenish groundwater.
She sympathized with residents dealing with the floods but said there are more systematic ways to address the issue. “I basically do not believe it is ever appropriate to ask a single person to be in charge of infrastructure for a neighborhood,” she said.
Many residents in the area experience flooding during the rainy season and expressed concerns about the country’s drainage system, but the council must balance the risks with “real difficulties for this family,” Mayor Fred Haynes told Black Press Media.
While the family will still have many obstacles to clean up before moving in with their one-year-old son, Matthew – they hope things will continue on a “good scale” now.
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