As the saying goes, everything in life has a price tag and for residents living along the Ottawa River near Cumberland Village, the price of living at the edge of a river with some of the best sunsets anywhere in the city is the occasional flooding.
|Dan Larivée ferries his neighbours, Mike and Jacinthe Potvin, to their car on Leo Lane. FRED SHERWIN/PHOTO
“It’s the best place in the world during the summer,” says Leo Lane resident Dan Larivée. “Even though we have to deal with this for a week or so, during the summer we’re right by the water and we can enjoy the rest of the year. It’s like a little paradise.”
There have been three major floods along the Ottawa River in the past five years. Once in 2017. Once in 2019. And again this spring.
The worst flooding occurred in 2017 when the loss of municipal services forced the residents living on Leo Lane, Morin Road and Boisé Lane to evacuate their homes for over a week. The flooding was bad in 2019 as well, but most of the residents were able to remain in their homes.
This year’s water levels are about a metre below the high water mark three years ago. Still, it’s enough to cover the lower part of Leo Lane in a metre and a half of water and turn four homes on the street into islands. A number of homes on nearby Morin Road and Boisé Lane were also surrounded by water as recently as this past Monday. Since then, the water has begun to recede.
When you live along a river, you live at the mercy of that river. It’s the same along rivers everywhere, but especially along rivers that have a large number of tributaries and where the spring melt and rain in late April and early May can exacerbate the situation.
The real culprit this year – as in years past when the Ottawa River has flooded its banks – is Mother Nature.
If it hadn’t been for five straight days of rain last week, the river would have stayed – at least for the most part – out of harm’s way.
But then the rain came and the water started inching higher and higher as the local conservation authorities raised their level of concern from a “flood statement” to a “flood watch” and finally a “flood warning”.
For long time residents like Dan Larivée and Mike Potvin who have lived on Leo Lane for 21 and 17 years respectively, it’s old hat. For others like two couples who have bought houses on the quiet cul-de-sac in the past two years, last week’s flooding came as bit of a shock as well as a reality check.
Neither couple wished to be interviewed for this story.
After the flooding in 2017, Pilon jacked up his house nearly eight feet and put in a basement to be used as a sort of holding tank when the flooding gets too high.
Larivée and the couple who lived next door to him invested in a large cofferdam in case the river rose again, which it did in 2019. The cofferdam, which is a large tubular material that you fill with water to act as a dam, worked relatively well, but it deteriorates with age so it is no good now.
Both Larivée and Potvin expect the river will continue to recede over the next few weeks and their properties will once again return to the idyllic oases they are during the summer – after a little cleaning up, of course.
“By June it will back to normal,” says Potvin.“I love the river. I’ve always lived on the river and it’s our home. It’s an unbelievable spot.”
Despite the occasional flood, neither Potvin nor Larivée plan to sell their homes anytime soon. “It’s not for sale,” says Larivée with a smile.