Waves lash Lake Erie shoreline in Chatham-Kent
CHATHAM-KENT, ONT. -- While the wicked wind is a nuisance to most residents in southwestern Ontario, for the beleaguered residents along the Lake Erie shoreline, Wednesday has been very tense and dramatic.
The high winds are forcing waves to slam into homes, already battered by the seasons' high water levels.
Residents are calling for a plan to deal with this, sooner rather than later.
Decision-makers are being pressured to develop plans now that could cost hundreds of millions, if not even a billion dollars.
“It's something that when you see the scope of the problem, to realize how big it is. It truly is disheartening," says councillor Anthony Ceccacci.
Residents and politicians alike are left wondering how in the world they're going to fix this problem, while at the same time combating Mother Nature day in and day out.
"Obviously if money wasn't an issue we would love to have these residents remain in their place, but unfortunately as you've seen with the numbers, the one estimate from 600 to 900 million dollars is just impossible for our small community," Ceccacci.
On Tuesday, residents were told at the shoreline study consultations, that several potential solutions are being examined.
Each of which ranges in price from $3-million to $1-billion and each of could have serious ramifications for other communities outside of Chatham-Kent.
The good news, according to Chatham-Kent-Leamington MP Dave Epp, is that the study is happening, noting these problems aren't exclusive to Chatham-Kent .
“There's no easy fix here,” says Epp. “There's no solution here that isn't going to require a lot of money."
Epp says the final report, which is expected early next year, will need to go to the municipality first, then the province and then to Ottawa.
“It's a combination of respecting jurisdiction and cooperating to provide the best outcomes both for the shoreline residents while respecting our taxpayer base," says Epp.
Meantime, staff from the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority monitor Lake Erie on a daily basis.
"I think the decisions makers in the municipality and the higher levels of government have some tough decisions to make," says Jason Homewood of the LTVCA.
They fear if Lake Erie doesn't freeze over and the winter is mild, things are going to get worse.
“If we're getting below freezing conditions and the wave uprush and spray goes on the homes and start freezing we're going to see conditions like in the 90's where there's ice build-up on homes and they start becoming ice cabins," says Homewood.
Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls did not respond to interview requests.
There are no commitments for any recommendations from Tuesday’s meetings, they're just being considered.
Pressure is on for immediate action as officials learned erosion rates could amplify by 120 per cent this winter should Lake Erie not freeze over.