resident Mike Potvin is fed up and he’s not going to take
it anymore. As the Ottawa River continues to recede from
his river front property following the latest 100-year flood
last month, the 73-year-old retiree is still fighting the
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority over the 2017 flood.
devastating event, Potvin’s house shifted off its cinder
block foundation and the first floor was completely inundated
Potvin stands in front of his house on Leo Lane which
was severely damaged in the 2017 flood. He spent over
$350,000 to make sure it wouldn`t be damaged in future
floods. Now the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
wants him to undo all his work. FILE PHOTO
not to let the catastrophic event happen in the future,
he lifted his house up and poured an eight-foot foundation
on top of which he added an additional two-foot knee wall.
built a retaining wall out of large granite boulders where
his sand bag wall kept the rising waters at bay in 2017
until it failed and the water rushed in.
he took and the money he spent paid off last month when
his house was left high and dry against the rising flood
water. He didn’t need a single sand bag or require any help
from the city`s emergency services. But one man’s solution
is another man’s transgression, or in this case, a government
Valley Conservation Authority is one of 36 conservation
authorities created by the Ontario legislature in 1946 with
the mandate to “ensure the conservation, restoration and
responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural
habitats through programs that balance human, environmental
and economic needs.”
past 73 years, the conservation authorities have had the
ultimate say when it comes to development with designated
flood plains. Anyone who builds or renovates their property
in a flood plain, must first get their local conservation
authority to sign off on the plans.
first decided to rebuild his foundation, he sought and received
a blessing from the City of Ottawa, but with one caveat
– he had to also get the blessing of the Rideau Valley Conservation
Authority, a hurdle that would prove a lot more difficult
to get clear.ed.
needed the RVCA's blessing to secure provincial flood relief
funds. But there was just one problem, the RVCA wanted him
to remove the retaining wall and the hundreds of cubic metres
of fill he added to his property.
wanted him to fill his basement with sand to recreate his
original four-foot crawlspace and drill four eight -inch
holes in the foundation wall to allow water to enter the
basement when the next flood happens. Potvin agreed to the
measures in order to get his relief funds, but he says he
was under duress at the time.
was beginning to effect my health and we really needed the
money we were entitled to so we could fix the foundation,”
foundation was damaged so bad the house was leaning dangerously
close to the river and Potvin was afraid it was going to
be condemned if he didn’t fix the situation and soon.
he is in the process of moving his retaining wall closer
to the house, Potvin isn’t moving it to the one- to 1.5-metres
demanded by the city – he believes it will adversely impact
the integrity of he new foundation in the advent of another
flood – and he doesn’t plan to fill his basement with sand.
happens when the next flood hits and the basement gets filled
with contaminated water? Am I supposed to get rid of the
contaminated sand and fill it back up again? Whose going
to pay for that? And why do it at all? They say it’s because
they don’t want the foundation to block the natural flow
of the water, but the sand bag walls are already doing that.
It’s the same thing,” argues Potvin who has spent more than
$30,000 so far on professional fees, including lawyers.
a court date in September when he plans to argue his case
before a judge. If he loses he will have to carry through
with the RVCA’s demands and incur the associated costs,
or risk a court order to pay back the relief funds.
On a more
positive note, Potvin has an important ally in none other
than Doug Ford. The Ontario premier threatened to get rid
of the Conservation Authorities during the last election.
Instead, he cut their funding by nearly 50 per cent in the
recently, the Conservative government introduced Bill 108,
which if passed (which is highly probable), will drastically
restrict the Conservation Authorities’ power and responsibilities.
For Mike Potvin that can’t happen soon enough.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)