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Boyle votes yes for watershed restoration grant

Village partnership with local conservancy group will address reoccurring drainage issues exacerbated by wet summer
Started in 1996 and registered as a charity two years later, Crooked Creek Society of Athabasca is a land trust organization with approximately 20 members.

BOYLE — Village of Boyle councillors agreed to pursue last-minute funding to repair problem drainage areas around town in partnership with local land trust Crooked Creek Conservancy Society of Athabasca (CCCSA).  

During the Sept. 6 meeting, councillors voted 5-0 in favour of pursuing a grant for the development of a riparian area and rain garden through the province’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program to address two areas with sub-par water drainage.  

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Coun. Shelby Kiteley. “We have so much extra water and that there is a grant to help us try to deal with it in some kind of pilot project is great.”  

The deadline for the grant was Sept. 15, and CCCSA delegate Heather Stocking said the application for $157,000 was submitted Sept. 13.   

Stocking noted she accompanied CAO Warren Griffin and a public works employee on a Sept. 1 tour of the village to assess and identify areas that “fall within the parameters of the grant.” She told council Sept. 6 she had identified five key areas that could be addressed, three of which she deemed as highest priority, and said in a Sept. 14 interview the partnership submitted an application for two of the identified areas. 

Griffin said after a wet summer, the drainage issues were particularly noticeable, but said pooling water in different locations around the village is a regular occurrence, even in seasons with less rainfall.

If approved, the provincial grant will help the village address a problem spot on Clintberg Avenue near the Village Office, where both Stocking and Griffin noted water runs overground and downhill towards the downtown area, resulting in problematic pooling along Railway Avenue.

Funds from the grant will be used to hire specialists such as hydro engineers and hydro geologists to design a riparian area — or natural drainage trench — to help water permeate the ground and ease the burden on the storm drain system. Labour and material costs will also be covered by the grant funding.

For the second problem area located on a residential property, Stocking suggested constructing a rain garden — a landscaped plant bed with both water-wise and drought-resistant plants — to create a barrier to divert water flow from the private yard, and again allow for better ground absorption of stormwater.

Kiteley said the rain garden could benefit the village by not only reducing the drainage issues, but also by providing other residents with a tangible resource on how individuals can address problems on their own property.

“When we get calls after heavy rains or what have you, we could tell them about the pilot project and approximate costs that went along with it and whether it was a success or not, which would be a better avenue that I’m sure a lot of people have never heard of,” said Kiteley.  

Coun. Barb Smith and Patrick Ferguson voiced concern about only pursuing solutions for a few of the problem areas, but Griffin noted in a Sept. 14 interview addressing the uphill issues may alleviate the symptoms seen downhill along Railway Avenue — symptoms that would require Canadian National Railway’s involvement as owners of the land north of the roadway.  

Stocking said the grant allows for project timelines of up to two years, and noted if the application is indeed approved and more work is needed in following years, the two parties can reapply for additional funds.  

Decisions on grant approval will be made before March 31, and Stocking said the partnership may hear back as early as December, time which she said could be useful for project planning.  

Lexi Freehill,

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