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Municipal Drains Information

The Drainage Act (the “Act”) is Provincial Legislation that provides a mechanism for landowners with drainage problems or lack of an outlet, to create a legal outlet for lands to be drained.  The creation of a “Municipal Drain” is a statutory public process that includes: a petition from affected landowners to create a Municipal Drain, public meetings, a final Engineer’s Report, an appeal process and finally a municipal by-law to adopt the Engineer’s Final Report.  The Act further provides mechanisms for apportioning costs and recovery of costs from landowners for construction or periodic maintenance.

Roadside ditches and Municipal Drains are two different things.  While there are some rare situations where a municipal drain can run in part or in whole along roadsides, this is not typical. Roadside ditches are maintained by the Roads Operations Division. Should you have questions regarding roadside ditches or maintenance of roadside ditches please call Roads Operations at (905) 318-5932.

The Drainage Act is Provincial Legislation that provides a mechanism for a Municipal Drain to be created. Not all ditches and buried pipes in the County are considered municipal drains. The County must first pass a by-law adopting an Engineer’s Report to class a ditch or pipe as a municipal drain.

The process of designating a municipal drain contains three key elements:

  1. Community Project – Landowners who need to solve a drainage problem may request the creation of a municipal drain by submitting a prescribed petition under the Drainage Act to Haldimand County. If the situation meets certain criteria, the County will appoint an engineer to prepare a report to identify the proposed solution to the problem and how the costs will be shared among the landowners in the watershed of the municipal drain. There will be a number of meetings where landowners can receive more information, provide input and voice their concerns about the municipal drain. There are also several appeal stages where landowners can voice their objections. The result is an engineering report for a “communally accepted” project.
  2. Legal Existence – Once the project has been “communally accepted”, the County will pass a by-law to adopt the engineer’s report. The County now has the authority and the responsibility to construct a municipal drain. The cost of the work is then assessed to each property within the watershed using the same ratio identified in the engineer’s report.
  3. Municipal Infrastructure – Once a municipal drain has been constructed under the Drainage Act, it becomes part of the County’s infrastructure. The County is responsible for repairing and maintaining the municipal drain at the expense of the properties within the drain watershed.

The Act further provides mechanisms for apportioning costs and recovery of costs from landowners for construction or periodic maintenance.

Learn more about Municipal Drains by visiting Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs website:

OMAFRA – Drainage

So, What’s A Municipal Drain?

Understanding Drainage Assessments

Benefit will vary between different lands, according to their differences of elevation, the quantity of water to be drained from the land, the distance from the municipal drain, and the presence or absence of other existing drains, natural courses and other like factors.

A municipal drain may benefit a property owner by raising the value of the property making it more marketable, by increasing the productivity of the land and by preventing water from entering on to it.

The County is responsible for maintaining the municipal drain on behalf of the community of property owners and as such, has established a regular maintenance program which will provide major maintenance on a 10 year cycle.  The County will periodically arrange to enter onto your property and undertake any necessary work. As a property owner, it is your responsibility to report any problems to the drainage superintendent.

Do not store materials such as brush, wood or other floatable material near the drain; in a storm they could float away and block the drain. All municipal drains eventually connect with a lake, river or stream.  Therefore, do not direct septic system waste, milkhouse waste, barnyard and manure storage run-off or other pollutants directly to these drains.

The County is responsible for maintaining the municipal drain on behalf of the community of property owners.  The County will periodically arrange to enter onto your property and undertake any necessary work. As a property owner, it is your responsibility to report any problems to the drainage superintendent.

Do not store materials such as brush, wood or other floatable material near the drain; in a storm they could float away and block the drain. All municipal drains eventually connect with a lake, river or stream.  Therefore, do not direct septic system waste, milkhouse waste, barnyard and manure storage run-off or other pollutants directly to these drains.

All lands, roads and utilities that are within the watershed of a municipal drain are responsible for the costs of the construction and maintenance of that drain.  The cost to each property owner will differ based on the assessment schedule as set out in the Engineer’s Report for each municipal drain.

Costs are assessed following the maintenance of a municipal drain and Haldimand County has adopted a ten year drain maintenance schedule.  Typically costs for municipal drain maintenance will be assessed once all costs are completed and applicable grants have been received.  Following receipt of the grant, the municipality will pass a levying by-law and assess the costs according to the schedule set out in the Engineer’s Report.

It is important to note that all costs associated with the construction and maintenance of the municipal drain are assessed to the property rather than to the property owner.  This means that should a landowner sell the property, any outstanding balance owing would become the responsibility of the new property owner.

Haldimand County will send property owners a notice for their assessed cost of the drain maintenance.

  • Please note assessed amounts less than $10 will be added to the owner’s property tax account without a letter notification

All amounts owing will be added to the property owner’s tax account.  For amounts of $500 or more, property owners have the option to decide (within 30 days) to sign up for a five year payment plan at a prescribed interest rate or may choose to pay the amount in its entirety.  The interest rate applied to municipal drain works is the same rate that is charged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for their Tile Drainage Loan Program.

From time to time, maintenance on your municipal drain may be required above and beyond that which is covered as part of the 10 year maintenance cycle (such as a blockage created by debris or a beaver dam, bank washouts, culvert collapses, etc).

Please contact our Drainage Superintendent if you would like to report an issue with the drain through the information shown below:

John Van Rooy
Project Manager, Municipal Drains (Drainage Superintendent)
Engineering Services Division
Haldimand County
282 Argyle Street South
Caledonia, ON  N3W 1K7
Phone:  (905) 318-5932, Ext. 6424
Email:  engineering@haldimandcounty.on.ca

Municipal Drains FAQ

A municipal drain is constructed to improve the drainage of agricultural lands. It is used primarily in rural areas to discharge excess water from the private agricultural tile drainage systems, roadside ditches, residential lots, churches, schools, industrial lands and any other properties. Municipal drains have been part of the local infrastructure since the 1800s.
Without these artificial drainage systems in place, many of the rural areas would be flooded on a regular basis causing decreased farm production on the land and increase public health risks.

There are cases where Municipal Drains run in part or in whole along roadsides. However, this is not typical. Roadside ditches are maintained by the Roads Operations Division. Should you have questions regarding roadside ditches or maintenance of roadside ditches, please call Roads Operations at (905) 318-5932.

The Drainage Act provides for a Municipal Drain to be created. Not all ditches and buried pipes in the County are
considered municipal drains. The County must first pass a by-law adopting an engineer’s report to class a ditch or pipe as
a municipal drain.

The process of designating a municipal drain contains three key elements:

1. Community Project – Landowners who need to solve a drainage problem may request a municipal drain by
submitting a prescribed petition under the Drainage Act to Haldimand County. If the situation meets certain
criteria, the County will appoint an engineer to prepare a report to identify the proposed solution to the problem
and how the costs will be shared among the landowners in the watershed of the municipal drain. There will be a
number of meetings where landowners can receive more information, voice their desires and their concerns about
the municipal drain. There are also several appeal stages where landowners can voice their objections. The result
– an engineering report for a “communally accepted” project.

2. Legal Existence – Once the project has been “communally accepted”, the County will pass a by-law to adopt the
engineering report. The County now has the authority and the responsibility to construct a municipal drain. The
cost of the work is then assessed to each property within the watershed using the same ratio identified in the
engineering report.

3. Municipal Infrastructure – Once a municipal drain has been constructed under the Drainage Act, it becomes part
of the County’s infrastructure. The County is responsible for repairing and maintaining the municipal drain at the
expense of the watershed.

All lands, roads, and utilities that are within the watershed of a municipal drain are responsible for the costs of the maintenance of that drain. The cost to each property owner will differ based on the assessment schedule as set out in the Engineers report for each Municipal Drain.

The County is responsible for maintaining the municipal drain on behalf of the community of property owners. The County
will periodically arrange to enter onto your property and undertake any necessary work. As a property owner, it is your
responsibility to report any problems to the drainage superintendent. Do not store materials such as brush, wood or other
floatable material near the drain; in a storm they could float away and block the drain. All municipal drains eventually
connect with a lake, river or stream. Therefore, do not direct septic system waste, milkhouse waste, barnyard and manure
storage run-off or other pollutants directly to these drains.

Benefit will vary between different lands, according to their differences of elevation, the quantity of water to be drained from the land, the distance from the municipal drain, and the presence or absence of other existing drains, natural courses and other like factors. A municipal drain may benefit a property owner by raising the value of the property making it more marketable, by increasing the productivity of the land and by preventing water from entering on to it.

Typically costs for municipal drain maintenance will be assessed once all costs are completed and applicable grants have
been received. For example:

The Lindsay drain is maintained in the fall of 2010. Once all costs are known, the municipality will apply
for grant funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Following receipt of the grant
municipality will pass a levying by-law and assess the costs according to the schedule set out in the
Engineers report for Lindsay drain. Final costs will be added to the applicable property owner’s taxes in
2012, due in four equal installments.

This example is typical moving forward. However, there is a backlog of completed maintenance projects and invoices may
be issued for prior work.

Haldimand County will send property owners a notice for their assessed cost of the drain maintenance (please note assessed amounts less than $10 will be added to the owner’s property tax account without a letter notification). All amounts owing will be added to the property owner’s tax account. For amounts $500 or more property owners have the option to decide (within 30 days) to sign up for a five year payment plan at a prescribed rate. The interest rate applied to municipal drain works is the same rate that is charged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for their Tile Drainage Loan Program.

The County has established a regular maintenance program where each drain will have the major maintenance on a 10 year cycle (mechanical brushing, bottom cleanout levelling of spoil), the drainage superintendent can advise you of the year in which maintenance is scheduled on that particular drain. If the maintenance is beaver dam removals or bank washouts, culvert collapses or specific blockages, contact the Drainage Superintendent for Haldimand County (contact info listed below), and arrangements will be made for the minor works to be completed.

The costs of maintenance are assessed to the property, not the property owner. The property continues to benefit from the maintenance of the municipal drain regardless of who the owners of the property are. The invoice is directed to the owners of the property at the time of billing out the final costs.

Under Section 84 of the Drainage Act, a drain can be abandoned, in whole or in part, by petition. The petition to request abandonment of an area must be submitted to Haldimand County Council. In order for the petition to be considered, it must be representative of and supported by the signatures of each property owner followed by the roll number, lot number, and concession number.

For more information visit the Ontario Ministry of Agricultural Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website at
www.omafra.gov.on, or contact:

John Van Rooy, Project Manager, Municipal Drains
Engineering & Capital Works, Haldimand County
Tel. (905) 318-5932 ext. 6415
jvanrooy@haldimandcounty.on.ca

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