Workers had to expand the ditch and use berming to deal with flooding at Huband Park Elementary Wednesday. Huband Park Facebook photo

Workers had to expand the ditch and use berming to deal with flooding at Huband Park Elementary Wednesday. Huband Park Facebook photo

Huband Park Elementary closed for day again due to flooding

School district says problems started after tree removal a couple of years ago

For the second time in less than a year, Huband Park Elementary was bailing out.

School administrators arrived early Wednesday morning to find the school flooding during some heavy rains overnight.

The school had to close for the day, though they accepted students on site as bus pickup was already happening. Many parents though did come to retrieve their children.

“The staff and parents really stepped up,” said Ian Heselgrave, director of operations for School District 71.

Last December, the school had to close for a day because of similar flooding circumstances through several classrooms.

RELATED STORY: Huband Park Elementary School closed due to flooding

While heavy rain is nothing new, what has changed in the last couple of years is the loss of trees from an adjacent property north of the school.

“It had 3,000 trees logged off it,” Heselgrave said. “All of a sudden we’re getting significant sheet drainage.”

While the school field had had the tendency to be “moist” in the past, the school had not faced flooding problems.

Heselgrave said he has been in contact with the regional district and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) about the drainage issues and the lack of a plan to manage stormwater or hold water in a retention pond.

“It shouldn’t adversely affect the school district,” he said. “This isn’t our water issue.”

However, the water has ended up becoming a school district issue from the nearby property. Beyond the mess, it also disrupts the day’s lessons.

“Everybody loses a day of learning,” Heselgrave said.

RELATED STORY: Residents want answers about logging trucks on road north of Courtenay

In 2019, some residents along Willis Way, near the site, complained about the logging trucks on the road at the time the trees were being cleared. While the area lies in Area B of the Comox Valley Regional District, tree removal permitting is not handled by the regional district. Instead, it goes through the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. At the time, MoTI confirmed the developer did get a permit to remove the logs from the site for a set period of time.

As far as a rainwater plan, the CVRD has confirmed the developer had submitted one as part of a development permit, though this plan was focused on potential effects within 30 metres of any riparian area rather than on possible effects from the eventual tree removal.

For now, this has left a mess for the school to clean up. Heselgrave said much of the work was done with squeegees by forcing water into floor drains, then using automated scrubbers for cleaning. However, staff did have a flood trailer on site with blowers, dehumidifiers and moisture meters. Outside the building, workers increased the size of a ditch and used berming to control water flow near the school.

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School District 71