A long-time resident of Kentville’s Brook Avenue is worried that the undermined bank of Mill Brook could result in trees falling across the waterway, leading to a jam and flood.
Robert Foley said it wouldn’t take much for several trees along Mill Brook to topple, essentially damming the waterway and causing a flood, especially during the winter months when an ice jam could occur.
“If they get crisscrossed under the bridge down there, it could be a mess,” he said. “Not only down there, but even along here too, it could dam it up.”
80-year-old Foley said there used to be room to park a car on the shoulder of the road alongside Mill Brook on Brook Avenue but not anymore. He said the trees there seem to be sitting much lower to the brook than they used to.
Looking across to the bank opposite from his home, Foley has noticed that it has become undermined from the flowing water and the tree roots have been exposed. He said the roots are bare of bark and appear to be rotten.
Foley said he was watching during a recent wind storm and thought the trees might fall across the brook. They didn’t, but he said they seem to be leaning more since. Once one falls, he’s fearful that others will go along with it.
Foley said he first brought the matter to the attention of the Town of Kentville several years ago. In the past, on occasion, he has had water come up through the ground into his basement. Fortunately, overland flooding from the brook has not been a major problem for him up to this point.
Foley said if something had been done sooner, such as installing a concrete retaining wall and backfilling it or placing large boulders along the bank to prevent erosion, maybe the trees could have been saved. He would at least like to see the trees in question removed.
Town monitoring Mill Brook
Town of Kentville chief administrative officer Mark Phillips said the town continues to monitor Mill Brook. In the past, a dedicated drag line was used to move ice down to where the brook intersects with the Cornwallis River to help prevent jams and potential flooding. He said they would do so again in the event that the brook freezes.
“That was part of our maintenance routine,” Phillips said. “We haven’t had to do that in at least 10 years, maybe 15. We just don’t get the long, cold winter anymore that freezes up Mill Brook.”
Phillips said a specific area in question on the west side of the brook is private property. It would be the owner’s responsibility to take care of any trees growing there or to restore the bank or driveway in the case of serious erosion.
“To kind of bridge between that and overall flooding, if a privately-owned tree went into the brook and it affected public safety, we would take care of it,” Phillips said.
He said the eastern side of the brook, where Foley resides, is privately owned in places but the town’s road right-of-way also borders the waterway.
It has been 16 years since the Town of Kentville was affected by severe spring flooding. Phillips said the town is in a much better state of readiness to deal with such a situation now than it was then.
In 2003, there was over-land flooding in the vicinity of West Main Street because of the high level of the Cornwallis River but storm water back-up also played a role. Since then, duckbills and back flow preventers have been installed on all of the town’s storm lines.
The town built a dyke on the former CP Rail land on River Street, where there wasn’t one before. Phillips said the land was at a contour line of approximately 9.3 m but since the dyke was built, it is now at 10.5 m. He said this is a significant increase that is intended to keep the Cornwallis River within its banks.
Along the Cornwallis River in the vicinity of Klondyke Street-Maple Place, the town moved a dyke to widen the river system by about 200 feet and help eliminate a bottle-neck effect that came into play in 2003.