Erie Shore Drive property owners search for options as road closure looms
CHATHAM-KENT, ONT. -- It's crunch time for residents along Erie Shore Drive as they pack up their belongings before the road to their homes is shut down.
Residents fear they may never be allowed to move back in and are considering legal action.
"We're trying to protect these cottages the best we can because we won't be here," says property owner Kim Snell.
It isn’t the dream that Snell envisioned when she purchased her lakefront cottage on Erie Shore Drive six years ago.
"The dream obviously was to retire here and we had to hope for water levels to go down, that's all gone,” says Snell. “This place went from the best investment we've ever made to the worst possible investment you could imagine."
It's now turned into a nightmare and she has packed up her belongings over the past two weeks in preparation for the road to close at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
"What are we left with? Nothing, like literally nothing,” says Snell. “We're left with nothing, except a mortgage that nobody is willing to do anything about."
About 123 houses are along the dike that needs repairs- some are cottages, some are full-time homes. Many residents are concerned about being out thousands of dollars if the road is closed permanently.
“We're going to fight this out tooth and nail," adds Snell.
Just down the road from Snell, property owner Deb Vint says she is waiting for direction from the Erie Shore Drive Property Association about legal action.
"They are expropriating our land, without expropriating our land,” says Vint. “They are not compensating us for not allowing us access to our properties."
Vint says she is waiting for direction from the Erie Shore Drive Property Association about legal action.
Property association president Terra Cadeau they asked members if they would contribute to a common legal fund.
“We have almost a 100 per cent participation in that,” says Cadeau. “So that's enabled us to get some really quick action."
She says it also helped understand what the options are.
"We've been meeting quite a bit with Chatham-Kent trying to find a collaborative solution for shoreline protection," says Cadeau.
The property association is holding another meeting on Sunday to share information with residents.
"We want them to know what we've been doing on their behalf, not just exploring legal opportunities, but really continuing to collaborate with the municipality," added Cadeau.
Once the road has closed Monday, residents will not have public access to their property to remove large items like vehicles.
The section from Erieau Road to 18416 Erie Shore Drive will be shut down until at least April 27. At that point, administration will report back to Chatham-Kent council with options, which could include a new dike, a new road further back or a complete buy out.