Charlie Pickard’s 18.5 acre property along Grafton Avenue in Errington was once a bucolic field

Errington flooding: it’s like living in a swamp

This year is the worst, but resident says the problem has bee around for a decade

While the recent heavy rain exacerbated flooding, a spot along Grafton Avenue in Errington has had issues for years according to residents.

The water is “still running across the road today… it’s not a good situation and nobody wants to take responsibility,” Sheila Pickard told The NEWS Friday afternoon.

Pickard, who lives along Grafton Avenue, said she and her husband have been there 21 years and built their home “high and dry,” but recently it’s like living in a swamp or behind a moat with three or four of their 18.5 acres under water.

The problem has been around for nearly a decade, but she said this has been the worst year yet with water sitting stagnate in close-by ditches all year round. She said flooding is causing issues on many neighbouring properties, and there are similar situations all over Errington and Coombs.

“It’s a health and safety issue,” she said, noting the flooding and ground saturation affects septic systems and wells in the area.

Pickard expressed frustration with various levels of government who all say it’s not their responsibility.

Regional District of Nanaimo planner Jeremy Holm said issues regarding road drainage and ditches fall under the responsibility of the province.

“Roads in rural areas and transportation are a provincial matter,” said Holm. “We (the RDN) can help direct people to the appropriate agencies to help get their issues resolved.”

But Julian Fell said “it’s an issue where no government wants to take responsibility.”

Fell, who represents Errington/Coombs, said “there’s no provincial legislation awarding authority to any local government and no provincial legislation where the province takes the responsibility.”

He said the regional district does not collect taxes related to drainage and flooding “so the locals are on their own which is unfortunate because it is very much a community issue.”

Fell said the lack of proper drainage affects many people in the area.

“One person’s flood becomes another person’s flood, you get this cascade affect and water is directed downstream,” he said. “It’s bumping the problem along and getting worse.”

Adam Roberts, media relations officer with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said the province generally looks after “numbered highways” in terms of water drainage.

“If a road has a name it’s not usually ours,” said Roberts.

That means residents along Grafton Avenue might be hooped.

However, Fell said the MOTI has to look at the problem.

“The water is on the road because of back ups,” he said. “It’s not something you can pretend disappears when it crosses a boundary.”

Fell said this was one of the first issues brought to his attention when elected in 2011 and it’s been an ongoing problem for years.

Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser could not be reached for comment by press time.

Pickard said residents plan to organize a community meeting about the constant flooding in an effort to come up with a solution and reach out to government organizations.

Asked if the flooding is affecting property value, Pickard said with a wink “well, we have waterfront property now.”

— with files from Auren Ruvinsky

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