When Terry Boulton built his retirement dream home in the Dock Area he had no way of foreseeing what climate change could do to his property.
If he had, he said, “I would have done things differently.”
He and his wife Ruth lived in an older home in the Dock Area in the early 1970s, and saw the water at an all-time high then, but it was nothing compared to this summer.
“Fingers crossed, we don’t have any water in our basement, yet. But I’ve had pumps running non-stop for two months now,” said Boulton.
His lower deck is completely underwater, and has been for a few weeks. A recent east wind came up over it, tore out a small garden beside the deck, and knocked him off his feet.
It also carried away sandbags piled three deep.
“What I had there in the way of protection was totally insufficient for that wind,” he said.
When he built his house in 2004, the property had a retaining wall that was considered too low.
In 2010, he and two other neighbouring property owners had a “very robust” retaining wall built, with input from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
It was constructed to a recommended height for the high water level foreseeable at the time, he said. He now knows differently.
He’s understandably nervous about what a 30-knot east wind with wave action could do to his front deck, where he was sitting outside on Canada Day, watching the canoes, kayaks and sail boats going by. The water level Monday was about two-and-a-half feet to three feet below his deck, he said, “but with a few bad days I can imagine it coming over the deck right to the patio doors,” with nothing he could do to stop it.
Yet there are others on the waterfront more vulnerable than he is, with water right up to their homes now.
“Perish the thought” of what could happen with an east or north-east wind, Boulton added.
Although he loves watching boats go by, he wishes inconsiderate boaters powering into the river at full speed would slow down, which might help everyone, including the Town, he said, in the battle to protect the shoreline and waterfront properties from erosion and flooding.