Florence and Maurice Harvey are hoping the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will buy their Owen Road property to use as part of a new storm drainage system.
It’s been nearly two years since she last pleaded to Kings County council for help, but an Owen Road resident said nothing has happened since then, despite promises to the contrary.
Florence Harvey said she and her husband Maurice need action, not sympathy or more promises.
When they bought their North Kentville home in 1973, Harvey said they were told there had been a “trickle” of water in the basement. About a month later, the basement flooded for the first time, something that is repeated whenever there is significant rain.
“I’ve had promises and promises and I’m tired of it,” Harvey told county council May 20. “We can’t sleep at night.”
With storm water frequently surrounding their house, Harvey said, “sometimes I feel like I’m on a boat.”
Harvey said she’s been complaining to Kings County council about the problem for more than 40 years. They can’t sell the property because of the situation.
“I’m afraid the house is going to fall down. I need someone to step up to the plate and help us. We don’t seem to get any satisfaction,” Harvey said.
She said they want help from the County of Kings and the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, but she is “thinking about going to the public to see if they will help us.”
The mildew and mould caused by damp conditions in their home has negatively affected Maurice’s health.
They have two sump pumps, but if the power fails, the basement floods. Sometimes, water comes in so quickly the pumps are overwhelmed and they have to use buckets to bail it out.
The municipality has installed French drains and catch basins to try to alleviate the problem. However, Harvey said these quickly fill with water and overflow in heavy rain. Large ponds sometimes form in the backyard.
“We can’t put up with another winter,” Harvey said. “Maurice’s health won’t handle it.”
In September 2012, council voted to transfer ownership of the existing underground drainage system in the vicinity of the Harvey’s property, valued at $12,000, to the provincial transportation department. Council also voted to accept an offer from the department to install a new storm water drainage system, which would connect into existing Town of Kentville infrastructure.
Council agreed to fund the project up to $100,000. As part of the agreement, responsibility for area drainage systems would revert fully to the province.
However, the new drainage system voted on in 2012 has yet to be installed. County of Kings Engineering and Public Works manager Scott Quinn confirmed this through an email on May 22.
“I have no idea where to go with this,” Harvey said. “Someone should take the bull by the horns.”
Warden Diana Brothers says there has been a fair amount of discussion surrounding the Owen Road flooding situation for years. However, negotiations with the province have been held in-camera and there is limited information that can be shared publicly.
“There have been stumbling blocks along the way,” Brothers said. “I can’t say a lot about what happens in-camera.”
Brothers told councillors that the chief administrative officer plans to provide them with an update in-camera.
Coun. Pauline Raven, who represents the area, said a number of attempts have been made over the years to try to alleviate the flooding. She described them as “short-term solutions working toward a larger project.”
Raven said Harvey has shared correspondence and there is “a very strong implied position” by the municipality and province that something would be done to help the couple.
Coun. Jim Winsor asked Harvey if someone from the health department has been to her home. However, Brothers interjected, stating, “I’m not sure what part of that we should be discussing in a public forum.”
Coun. Wayne Atwater said the provincial governments “have done absolutely nothing” to help the Harvey’s.
“I think you’re almost wasting your time here,” Atwater told Harvey.
He said he doesn’t know what council is going to do, but thinks they need a legal opinion on who holds responsibility.
“This has gone on far too long,” he said.