LACOMBE — A man fighting expropriation of several acres of family farmland for a proposed ring road argued the project will lead to flooding on his property.
Dr. Darrell Paul told an expropriation inquiry on Monday that the drainage plan for a project to upgrade 34th Street on the east side of Lacombe won’t be able to handle the flow during wet years. Water will pool on nearby farmland, killing crops.
Long-term, repeated flooding will devalue the land, which is expected to be developed as Lacombe grows.
Paul, an Airdrie surgeon, and his sister Sherron Paul represent the estate of their late father, whose family has farmed the area since the 1940s.
The Pauls contend the city and Lacombe County’s road upgrade plan takes more land than necessary from their farm, where they grow canola, wheat, barley and hay. Two narrow strips totally just under four acres are required from the Pauls as part of the project to widen, pave and create larger drainage ditches on 34th Street.
They also contend a proposed access to their farmland is in the wrong place and will not be safe.
Paul said in earlier negotiations an agreement had been reached to remove one of the culverts near their property. That culvert is back in more recent designs that the Pauls believe don’t adequately protect the area from flooding.
Negotiations between the Pauls and the city failed to reach an agreement and council voted in February to pursue expropriation.
That decision was premature, say the Pauls, who have pointed out negotiations are still ongoing with other landowners who haven’t been targeted for expropriation.
The ring road to take industrial and commercial traffic out of downtown Lacombe has been in the planning stages for nearly a decade. It will take traffic from Hwy 2A through industrial areas and then connect to Hwy 12.
Matthew Goudy, the city’s director of planning operations, told arbitrator Graham McLennan that 34th Street plans will not increase the likelihood or severity of flooding on the Pauls’ land.
“Will this design cause flooding to the Pauls’ land? Absolutely not,” he said in a response to questioning from the Pauls’ lawyer Daniela O’Callaghan.
Drainage changes that are part of the project will make their land less prone to flooding, he said.
Stantec Consulting engineer Todd Simenson said much of the land in the area is listed on provincial maps as flood ways or flood fringe areas.
The road project will improve drainage in the area and the amount of land required to upgrade the road and provide larger drainage ditches is reasonable based on drainage needs. Proposals put forward by the Pauls to add additional and larger culverts at one spot would add $291,000 to the project’s $4.4 million construction cost and is not supported by Stantec.
Once an inquiry has finished, the inquiry officer has 30 days to make his decision.