THE City of Winnipeg is being accused of violating its environment act licence by allowing infill construction that results in more combined sewer overflows.
The Glenwood Neighbourhood Association filed a complaint with the province Wednesday, which alleges the city failed to ensure the developments didn’t increase the frequency or volume of CSOs. The association says 100 variances were filed for lot splits in the neighbourhood over the past 10 years.
The GNA claims that left the community with much more impermeable home and concrete surfaces and much less lawn and garden space where rain water can be absorbed.
Combined sewers collect both precipitation and wastewater in a single pipe and can overflow during heavy rain or snow events.
"If you put hard surfaces on a piece of land, that reduces the soft surfaces that can allow infiltration (and) that results in more runoff under certain storm conditions. We already know from the number of combined sewer overflows that occur in Winnipeg that those storm conditions happen fairly frequently," said Ray Hesslein, the GNA’s planning committee chairperson.
CSOs sent 12 billion litres of diluted sewage directly into local rivers in 2019.
The GNA, which has opposed many infill developments due to noise, traffic and other concerns, is asking the province to "immediately" stop lot-split variances from being allowed in Glenwood and other Winnipeg areas served by combined sewers.
A city spokesperson, however, said water and waste staff don’t believe infill development has caused an increase in combined sewer overflows.
"The city is aware of the concerns of the Glenwood Neighbourhood Association and does not currently have any indication that lot splitting in Glenwood has increased the frequency or duration of CSOs," wrote Kalen Qually, in an emailed statement.
— Joyanne Pursaga
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.