The Mayor of Queens bristles at the suggestion Liverpool is sinking.
“Liverpool is not sinking,” said Darlene Norman. “The ocean’s rising in a parking lot area that is surrounded by some businesses but Liverpool, as in main street Liverpool, is high and dry ground. The majority of Liverpool is fine.”
Norman is responding to the recently released flood mitigation strategies prepared for Region of Queens council by CBCL consultants back in 2019.
The parking lot in question is downtown along the Mersey River.
Many local business fixtures and points of interest border the lot including Centennial Park, Memories Café, Home Hardware, Hell Bay Brewing and the Royal Canadian Legion, among others.
CBCL made four recommendations to overcome the flooding ranging from the construction of a seawall, raising the parking lot or market street, to relocating the businesses in the affected area.
The four recommendations come with a price tag that could be as high as $9 million.
Those estimates were completed in 2019 before the cost of building materials skyrocketed during the pandemic and the mayor expects they could be much higher now.
While cost was a consideration, Norman says Region of Queens Council rejected all four suggestions on the basis of fairness.
“The Region of Queens is more than the former town of Liverpool and what we undertake in Liverpool we then undertake in all parts of coastal Queens,” said Norman.
In the short term, council has decided to apply for $500,000 from the province’s Flood Risk Infrastructure Investment Program to raise Market Street from the Liverpool Bridge to Water Street because it is prone to flooding.
The Region would match the provincial funding and the total cost of the elevating Market street would sit around $1 million.
Norman says council needs to ensure Market street remains passable as it is the main road in and out of downtown Liverpool for emergency vehicles.
She says the hope is to complete the work by 2023.
Council is taking advantage of the current Land Use Bylaw review to head off future flooding issues.
Norman says the draft plan dictates raising buildings eight feet on coastlines and ideally restricts new construction to be set back 100 feet from waterfrontage.
The mayor says council needs to plan for responsible development into the future.
“Knowing what we know, if we continue to allow these things, we’re just dropping more trouble onto future councils,” said Norman. “So we might as well be the ones that bite the bullet.”
Norman expects the proposed Land Use Bylaws will be coming to council in the next few weeks.
Residents will be able to comment through the public approvals process before the provincial government signs off on the final draft.
Norman hopes the new land use bylaws will be adopted before the end of the year.
Reported by Ed Halverson
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