Family of disabled girl forced to fight Kawartha Conservation for approval to make their home more accessible

Andrea and Dean McGilvray have lived at 1059 Little Britain Road, smack in the middle of town of Little Britain for about 10 years. They also run a successful business at this location. Last year they decided it was time to make some changes to the 120 year old farmhouse they live in, so that it would be more accessible for their daughter who is severely disabled. “It’s not a ping pong room, not a rompus room, it’s a main floor living area, bedroom and bathroom for a very special little girl that’s in a wheelchair” said Andrea McGilvray

So imagine her surprise when Kawartha Region Conservation Authority (KRCA)put a stop to the project saying their home was on a flood plain. “They said no development in a floodway even though we planned to build on the existing foot print of the home. We would like tear down the attached garage on our very old century home and re-build with a dwelling that would be wheelchair accessible.”

The home along with the rest of the town is near the Mariposa Brook and is considered a flood plain and for the last year Kawartha Conservation has denied a building permit. “The conservation authority has policies that staff have to follow, you can allow some leeway in there but if it requires more leeway then a hearing has to take place” Ted Smith, Board Chair KRCA, tells Vanmeer Free Press.

At the hearing, which was held on Wednesday in Scugog, Andrea McGilvray said there’s has never been a flood in the ten years they’ve lived on the property and the previous owners told her the same thing. She says the flood plain mapping used by the conservation authority is flawed and outdated.  “The flood data used in from 1990, it’s very outdated. We had our own study done which found some errors with some of the mapping”  The McGilvray’s experts told the hearing they were confident in their study and confident that flooding would not be an issue. That study and the legal fee’s associated with fighting KRCA cost the McGilvrays $20,000.

Even looking at the mapping used by KRCA it’s difficult to see the rationale behind their decision. The mapping shows the floodplain touching on the last few feet of the McGilvrays driveway only.  The house is at a higher elevation than the driveway. “It’s frustrating it’s taken this long when we have consultants and engineer’s saying this is crazy, your’e on your buildings existing footprint, your not changing that, it’s bonkers”

In a unanimous vote the Board of Directors of the KRCA decided to allow the renovations.  They are asking the City of Kawartha Lakes to embark on some updated flood plain mapping for the Mariposa Brook. “I would hope that the City of Kawartha Lakes would see fit to extend their flood plain mapping like they’ve been doing with other creeks and tributaries in CKL. I would hope they would do that as well on the Mariposa Brook to give us more accurate levels so this type of thing could be avoided.” Said Smith.

Maybe they could use the study the McGilvrays had done and reimburse them? Smith said that’s possible.

Kawartha Lakes Councillor Isaac Breadner who is on the board was happy with the decision to allow the permit. “‘I’m happy that the KRCA made a common sense decision and will be reviewing their policies going forward to ensure they continue to provide better customer service when issuing permits”

Let the renovations begin! “We feel great, it’s just a long, long journey to get here, it’s good to get the right outcome. Said the McGilvray’s after the vote.

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2 Comments

  1. David said:

    I know your pain. I have been dealing with them and City of Kawartha Mistakes for 3 years. I am currently suing Kawartha Mistakes and I have launched 2 formal complaints with federal and provincial agencies about the Kawartha Conservation. I’m glad you didn’t give up the fight!

  2. John Smith said:

    …and who will they sue when their house gets flooded, the City and the Conservation Authority of course.

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