Drainage bylaw revised, again

By Allan Benner, The Standard

Welland Ward 2 Coun. David McLeod

Welland Ward 2 Coun. David McLeod

Changes to a bylaw designed to help prevent stormwater from entering Welland’s sanitary sewers was again sent back to the drawing board by city council.

Revisions to the city’s drainage bylaw were referred back to the committee level last week, due to concerns about implementing it without having enough discussion on the issue.


The revised bylaw was initially considered by city councillors on Nov. 29, but was referred back to city staff at the time due to concerns that it was too intrusive.


The initial version of the bylaw would have required thousands of homeowners to disconnect weeping tiles from sanitary sewers, and install sump pumps.


“I’d say it’s opaque. It’s not very transparent,” said Ward 2 Coun. David McLeod. “There’s nothing here to discuss. It’s simply we’re going to enact a new sewer and drainage works bylaw. That’s what happens if we just approve this.”


Mayor Frank Campion said the city did deal with the issue in a transparent way since it was the topic of discussion at a recent general committee meeting. The agenda item, he added, was actually approval of the report from the committee.


But McLeod remained concerned about the wording of the recommendation included in the agenda.


“It says that Welland city council approves the revised sewer and drainage works bylaw … I don’t know how to read it any other way, other than to say if I vote in favour of this, we’re approving the bylaw,” he said. “That’s what that says, unless I don’t understand what the word approved means.”


“That is the recommendation from the committee,” Campion told him. “We’re approving the bylaw, we’re simply recognizing that it happened at the committee meeting and this will then come back to council.”


Ward 1 Coun. Mary Ann Grimaldi shared McLeod’s concerns.


The recommendation “says we’re moving this forward, so in essence we’re passing it,” she said. “I would much rather have it go back to general committee.”


In an interview, Campion said the initial revisions to the bylaw were too intrusive because property owners would have been required to make significant changes to their homes to comply.


He said it has since been revised to grandfather existing homes.


“Whatever you have right now, you’re compliant,” he said, adding existing homes would not be complaint if the initial version of the bylaw had been implemented.


“That’s really the major change. It’s optional. If you wish to do it, by all means give us a call and you can take advantage of the funding that’s available,” he said. “There are people who may wish to do that. That have flooding basements continually, and this is something that can help resolve that.”


The revised bylaw would, however, require existing homes to disconnect weeping tiles from sanitary sewers if sewer lines are exposed through home renovations.


In some cases, however, he said it may be required in homes that have continual flooding during heavy rainstorms.


In that case, he said, “we would come and say, ‘You’re going to have to do this because you’re going to keep getting flooded and you’re going to keep phoning us and saying my basement’s flooded again.’


“The only solution to that is to disconnect everybody and put sump pumps in, and then you won’t have these problems anymore,” Campion said.