They Paved Paradise


by Councillor John Barclay

North Grenville is relatively flat, as many young families looking for a local toboggan hill will attest. The majority of the Municipally ranges between 90 to 110 metres above sea level, a differential of only about 60 feet. Most of the Municipality feeds into the Rideau Valley watershed, with a smaller area in the southeast that feeds into the South Nation River. Within each watershed are many identified catchment areas. All in all, with very little topographic relief, landowners, both rural and urban, are constantly concerned about adequate drainage.

Our former Mayor was renowned for describing North Grenville as Paradise. In the past 15 years, with the rapid growth of residential sub-divisions and big box store malls, we’ve paved or roofed over a lot of green space – land that would normally allow for rainwater to percolate down to the aquifer hundreds of feet below the surface, or to pool naturally and to evaporate. What happens when you pave paradise and put up a parking lot? Oooh lah lah!

From my experience last year, once the “field reports” from residents about snow clearing and pot-holes have ended, Public Works starts dealing with drainage issues. I’m hoping this article can help explain some of the issues and point to some solutions. First of all, Drainage Concerns Forms are available online ( and at the front desk in the Municipal Centre. Filling out this simple single-page form helps staff assess and track the drainage issues that you describe.

Here are some things to remember as Spring approaches (yippee!) and the snow begins to melt. It may seem obvious, but road ditches are for water, specifically to drain the water that runs off them. They are meant to be wet, not dry. Slow-moving water in the ditch by your road encourages percolation down to the aquifer and evaporation, as opposed to unfiltered water moving at higher velocity into drains and eventually rivers. The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority encourages gravel driveways versus paved driveways for just this reason. Oil, grease and gas can be absorbed and filtered down through the earth, rather than being washed into a nearby watercourse.

Your sump line should end at your property line before the road ditch. Besides handling water from the road, these ditches are built to contain storm-water (high rainfall). If your sump line is below the high-water mark of the ditch, you may find that, during a heavy storm, your sump line is below the high-water line and guess what … it could end up siphoning water back into your basement!

You may have noticed that many farmers in North Grenville are of Dutch descent. Immigrants from Holland had knowledge and expertise with drainage, given that much of their country is below sea level, and they brought that experience to rural North Grenville. Suffice to say that proper drainage is key to developing and maintaining arable agricultural land. North Grenville’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Advisory Committee identified drainage concerns as their first priority. Unfortunately, drainage is one the most common areas of dispute between rural neighbours, whether they’re farmers or not. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has some very good resource material online. This link: will take you to one of their useful Fact Sheets on the subject.

In relatively flat North Grenville, the maintenance of mutual and municipal drains is an important topic of concern. Proper engineering, regular inspection and maintenance are essential; otherwise, problems flow from one neighbour to the next, and they compound.

A Stormwater Master Plan is included in the 2020 Draft Municipal Budget. Among other things, it will assess all existing drainage patterns, identify catchment areas and systems that exist and that possibly need improvements in the Urban Serviced Area. It will also identify ditches that should be piped systems, and areas that have no drainage systems at all and that require attention. This is a huge undertaking, long overdue, and will be outsourced to third-party engineers. Once complete, a comprehensive stormwater strategy will be in place, and planning considerations will be incorporated so that future development can be better integrated.

Growth will continue here in North Grenville and we need to manage it wisely in order to continue to call this community Paradise. You can contact me by phone (613-322-8132), by email (, or drop by to one of my “Talk To Me Tuesday” meet and greet sessions at a local coffee shop (locations posted on



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