Great pictures from that little drone!!
My father used to remind me that the entire area from what is now Boston Pizza all the way up to about the Family Place restaurant used to be a “swamp”! When he went to high school this area was full of cattails and muskrats and flooded every spring.
As with most low lying areas, our society has filled this area in. In this case, first with sawmill waste, (chips, dust etc.) some garbage from local business and then fill from construction projects. This is happening right now in the swamp area on Highway 6o across from Deerhurst’s Highlands golf course. It also happened next to what is now Huntsville Marine. I remember this because in the first half of the 60’s Highway 60 did not go where it goes now. Kawartha Dairy, 3 Guys and all the rest of those buildings did not exist. In their place was a low lying swamp. We filled this in and built all over it just as we are doing still in many places.
If you ask the watershed people they will tell you this is a “bad thing to do”. Sure, in each case it may be small but it is not the individual case that matters. What matters is the overall total effect. Now, when you look at any of these areas, you will see as spring arrives that the flat open areas, especially if they are paved, melt faster and more completely than forest areas and these faster than swamp areas.
These wet, low lying areas, the land that realtors despise and consider of low value, is actually the sponge that nature has provided to even out the water flow. Water that remains trapped in these areas for even just a few days will not cause the rapid rise and fall of rivers and lakes but will gradually trickle out. This, at least in nature is a good thing. Trouble is that for us this land is fairly, or at least on the surface appears, fairly useless. I mean you can’t build on it or park on it or anything most humans want to do on it.
Some of us like to complain and blame the lazy use of computers by staff at places like the MNR for flooding, saying it did not happen this badly in the “old days” and since the new staff are all whizz kids with computers and smart phones they must be too distracted by this technology to be doing a good job. This is not likely the case however. These staff probably work hard and worry just as much as before (I wouldn’t really know this as in this information age it is almost impossible to actually talk to any of the staff that do this job. They are hidden behind firewalls of voice mail!) but we have done this to ourselves by clearing the land a little bit more each year.
Remember that flood at A&W a few summers back? Wonder where it came from? Well what used to be a forested hill leading to a swampy field is now a combination of Home Depot, Walmart, the Independent, the new Chrysler dealership, a host of other smaller buildings and apartments and if you look at the forest area left you note a big sign saying that “Rock Solid Consulting” does not want you trespassing and is going go be building something there someday, perhaps, maybe… you get the idea. We continue to fill at every opportunity, (look across Highway 60 at the Hanes Road intersection at the top of the hill) and this filling and paving makes the situation worse with every little bit added and every vanished piece of swamp land.
To their credit the folks who brought us Walmart did do a lot of work to try to retain the water retention of the area. Undisturbed areas, a small lake, special weirs to even out the outflow and so on, but I doubt all this effort has really matched the retention abilities of the natural land before. At least they have tried, others do not even make an attempt.
The point is that we can expect these type of floods to increase and get worse as time goes on because not only have we decreased the ability of our land to retain water and even the flow, but we have globally caused our weather to become more extreme, with bigger and more frequent storms. We had better get used to all this. It is part of the hidden cost of having a convenient big box store in every neighborhood and the cars and roads to drive on so we can access these places. I mention Walmart and should apologize to them as they are merely one of many. They just do such a good job of marketing that they are one of the first to come to mind, they are really nothing special in this regard.
I have not touched on the inappropriateness of building low on the flood plain, like John Street and the Big East river areas. That is another issue of judgement for all concerned but the effects are pretty obvious. These people have to make the decision if they want greater security from flooding or cheaper land with easy normal river access. They can’t have both, but the choice is theirs and I’m not going there today.
Brian Tapley attended school at Port Cunnington, then Irwin Memorial in Dwight, then Huntsville High, and then Queen’s University, where he graduated 1973 as a Mechanical Engineer.
He worked for Kimberly-Clark for a short time before ‘retiring’ to help his aging parents run the family resort, Bondi Village Cottage Resort in Dwight.
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