City is ready to help save Holly Hills Farm

After one failed attempt, city council is now in a position to help a young farmer save her heritage farm from yearly flooding.

On two different occasions, Katie Denne has appeared before council to describe how her and her husband’s 16.2 acre Holly Hills property in northern Campbellton is slowly being destroyed by winter flooding.

Council has been sympathetic and tried to help fix the problem last year, but with no luck.

The city asked contractors last summer to bid on a job that would improve the ditch and culvert system on Woodburn Road so that water would flow properly instead of building up in the middle of Denne’s farm, drowning her pastures and trees and submerging a small foot bridge.

However, the city cancelled the project after it received only two bids and both were three times the amount council budgeted for.

Council tried again this year and re-issued the tender on April 23. This time around, council received three bids, with the lowest being $259,054 from J.R. Edgett Excavating. Last year, the lowest bid was $436,108.

The cheaper price is related to timing. Because this time the city put the project out to tender earlier in the year, the contractor has more time to complete the work within a time frame dictated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to protect fish habitat.

Council was expected to award the project to J.R. Edgett Excavating at its Tuesday council meeting, after the Mirror went to press.

Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said the work involves re-constructing the Woodburn storm drain.

“This work will include the improvements to the storm water flows along the lower portion of Woodburn and Park, the installation of a new cross flow channel from Ida to Woodburn, and improvements to existing fish habitat in the area,” Hadfield wrote in a report to council. “This area is relatively flat farmland area that is subject to seasonal flooding and has required upgrading for a number of years as identified in the Integrated Storm Management Plans completed over 10 years ago.”

Denne has described the conditions on her farm as dangerous.

“The constant water is rotting our fence posts, killing our trees, drowning our pasture grasses, submerging our bridges and causing dangers for ourselves and our animals,” Denne said in December of last year. “Over five of our eight-acre pasture is flooded throughout most of the year. Holly Hills Farm is in grave danger due to the inadequate ditching and ineffective culverts.”

Holly Hills Farm is close to Denne’s heart as it was started by her grandfather in the 1950s and passed down through the generations. Denne and her husband have been working to get the farm back up and running since 2012 and currently run a weekly egg program out of their farm.

The couple has spent more than $65,000 in revitalizing Holly Hills Farm.

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