Council heard from Kevin Heath, resident of 1525 Chamberlain Drive, who was speaking on behalf of about 23 residents along his street, as well as others along sections of 108 Avenue. Heath said residents in his neighbourhood have had to endure four sewer back-ups over the last 10 years during major rainfall events – first in 2001, then again in 2007, and two more earlier this summer.
"I cannot emphasize the effects financially, physically and emotionally of losing irreplaceable objects like family heirlooms and pictures," he said. "It has affected our ability to sell our homes and to insure our homes, and you cannot believe how violated you feel when your house is full of sewer (water) four times in 10 years."
He said the street is at a low point of the sewer line, which means not only does the backed-up sewage seep into basements and crawlspaces, but it also fills the weeping tile with debris, limiting their ability to remove groundwater from their foundations.
"We've installed pumps, backwater valves and alarms that can and will fail," said Heath. "The capabilities, layout and efficiency of the sewers is beyond the residents control, and is ultimately the responsibility of the city. What we want to know is what are the future plans of the city to deal with our sewer system, because this is totally unacceptable."
Chief administrative officer Jim Chute said as they have done in other neighbourhoods in the city where vulnerabilities in the sewer system have been revealed following major rainfall events, city crews have already tested the Chamberlain Drive sewer line, as well as along a section of 92 Avenue, but those tests determined there is nothing wrong with the lines themselves.
"There's no particular reason why the Chamberlain Drive line should be backing up – it’s a dead-end two-block line that runs into one of our biggest sewer mains, a main line," said Chute. "It shouldn’t backup, but it is, so that means there is something insufficient in the design or in the installation, and we just have to find out what that is and correct it."
He said the next step is to have a design made to see what could be done to accommodate those kind of heavy rainfall events, and then to bring forward a budget for the project to council to be included in next year's capital works plan. He added staff will continue to keep residents in that neighbourhood informed of that progress.
Kevin and Melody Heath of 1525 Chamberlain Drive speak on behalf of themselves and their neighbours about the ongoing issues they’ve had with sewer back-ups following heavy rainfalls during a city council meeting this morning.