WINDSOR, ONT. -- The first project for the Town of Essex Shoreline Protection Program is now underway on a local property.

Anthony Gagliano shoreline property owner in the Lypps Beach area is the first to begin work on his property — the construction of a 40-meter break wall — with the help of the town’s Essex Shoreline Assistance Loan Program.

“This was probably the easiest and most preferable process of my project, it would have been really hard for me to access all the funds required at one time and having this option meant that other required work could be done at the same time,” Gagliano said in a news release. “I would highly recommend any property owner needing shoreline work to consider this option.”

The program provides property owners with loans, in partnership with a bank to repair or construct protective works to prevent erosion damage and flooding. The loan balances are transferred onto property tax accounts in the form of a local improvement charge and then paid back annually.

It is the first of its kind in the region, the town says, it was intended to replace the provincial loan program which offered loans to shoreline property owners before it was discontinued in 2010.

“Many communities in our region and throughout Ontario are struggling to deal with the impacts of high lake levels and shoreline erosion,” said Chris Nepszy, Chief Administrative Officer. “As a Town, this program represents a creative, cost-effective solution for residents while meeting our own strategic goals.”

The town’s 2019-2020 strategic plan highlighted goals of “mitigating the impact of climate change” and “working with partners to reduce the impact of shoreline flooding.”

The town says more than 30 homeowners have shown interest in the program to date. Four are now undergoing the process.

“It’s great to see so many property owners interested in the program,” said Mayor Larry Snively. “As a Council, we recognize that we have limited capacity to stop flooding and erosion, so this program provides residents a new option to protect their properties while limiting the financial burden on the Town and its taxpayers.”

Interested property owners can apply for the program on the Town of Essex website.