Vehicles cross MacMillan Road in Cedar during flooding in January 2021. The City of Nanaimo plans to replace clogged culverts to help alleviate flooding. (File photo)

Vehicles cross MacMillan Road in Cedar during flooding in January 2021. The City of Nanaimo plans to replace clogged culverts to help alleviate flooding. (File photo)

Drainage work could help clear flooded road in Cedar

Plans underway to replace clogged culverts backing up water over MacMillan Road

A road in Cedar, submerged by flood waters since November, could finally get some repair work this spring so it can drain and dry.

A section of MacMillan Road, which crosses York Lake to connect Cedar Road with Holden Corso Road and Harmac Road, has been underwater and closed to traffic since mid November when heavy rains swelled the waters of York Lake, a marshy wetland between Cedar and Walsh Roads.

Despite road closure warning signs and barriers placed across the road to ward off traffic, a number of drivers attempted driving through only to have their vehicles become stranded in the deep water. A social media stuntman from Toronto even posted a video of himself swimming on the road.

READ ALSO: Social media stuntman goes for swim on flooded road in Cedar

There have been more serious consequences for homeowners on Walsh Road whose properties have been flooded by the swollen lake, said Bill Sims, Nanaimo’s general manager of engineering and public works, at a finance and audit committee meeting Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Staff came before council to ask that $400,000 be approved to undertake work to help rectify repeated flooding of MacMillan Road in recent years.

Though that area is outside Nanaimo city limits, staff noted that water is being backed up because of clogged culverts downstream. The Duke Point Water Supply Main crosses York Creek, weaves its way through wetlands, goes under the Duke Point Highway and Harmac Road and ultimately drains into the Nanaimo River. The 750-millimetre water main was built in 1982 to serve the Duke Point industrial area and today also supplies water to the Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Nanaimo River No. 4 reserve lands.

Culverts have become clogged with debris from storms and beaver activity. Sims said city workers have installed temporary culverts over top of the water main, which are helping to slowly drain the flood water.

“Our proposal … once the lake can get down a little bit, is to excavate below the water main, support the main with a bridge and remove the culverts entirely … so we’d restore the creek, in a way, underneath the pipe,” Sims said at the meeting. “This helps mitigate the risk, not only to the city’s infrastructure, but to private residences along Walsh Road and MacMillan Road and it will help the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure refocus their efforts on their Duke Point culvert.”

Estimated cost for the work is $350-400,000.

Mike Squire, city manager of water resources, told the News Bulletin that water levels will have to come down before work can get started. Designs are being drawn up and must be certified by engineers and then the job priced out before repairs can start. Weather will play a role in determining when work can get underway, too.

“I really would like to get in there, hopefully in April and clear it up,” Squire said.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure will be responsible for repairing culverts that run under Duke Point Highway and Harmac Road, which fall under provincial jurisdiction.

The finance commitee unanimously approved the money for the project.

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