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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Holland Marsh project most costly Drainage Act project in Ontario history

The Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal has, with minor changes, approved the Holland Marsh Drainage System Canal Improvement Project, the most expensive Drainage Act project in Ontario history.  The Tribunal described the project in its decision as follows:
The project started in 1997 when preliminary studies were done on improving the Holland Marsh Canal System which then culminated in a preliminary report in 2003 on repairing the dykes and canals of the Holland Marsh Canal System.

The final report on the project, which is the subject of this hearing, was commissioned in May 2003 and proposes the following work:

  • improving 16.95 kilometres of canal by shifting the canal locations laterally;
  • improving another 11.0 kilometres of canal with bottom cleanout and minor widening in some areas;
  • 9.8 kilometres of graded berms beside dyke roads;
  • repairing scattered lengths of dyke;
  • addressing numerous irrigation inlets through the dykes that have service from the canals;
  • addressing drain outlets and well overflow outlets that discharge to the canal;
  • addressing 13 bridges that cross the canals;
  • providing for minor works of buffer construction, lateral channels and drainage along canals roads; and
  • providing for better and easier future maintenance of the canals.
The Report estimates that the total cost of the proposed repairs to the canals and dykes, inclusive of financing, engineering and administration to be $26,385,640.
Of the total cost of the project, the Engineer gave less than $500,000 in allowances to landowners for the taking of land and disturbance.  More than 7,000 properties were assessed for costs of the project, but only 12 appeals were made to the Tribunal claiming that assessments were too high or allowances were too low.  For areas outside the Holland Marsh itself (the appeals only related to this land), the Engineer allowed $10,000 per acre for standard cultivated agricultural land required for the project.  This gives some indication of the value of the land involved in the case.

Read the Tribunal's decision at: Holland Marsh Drainage System Canal Improvement Project.