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Concerns over erosion in Cape Coral canals after city debris removal

Cape Coral canal debris removal
Posted at 3:35 PM, Mar 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-17 19:48:53-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — On Friday, more than four months after the City of Cape Coral contractors started removing debris from canals, one city council member said they want to put a pause on the project.

“I would have rather put a pause on it for, and I said last night, a month and looked at our restoration efforts before we continued with that,” said Cape Coral Council member Tom Hayden.

Council member Hayden recommended the pause so that city staff can address the possibility of erosion along the canals.

Lori Bulcock, Cape Coral resident and member of the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife said city contractors removed too much vegetation during canal cleanup.

“When the rains come, and you know how the rains are in the summer, look, what's going to happen? Look at all this dirt, it's gonna go (into the canal),” said Bulcock.

Hayden told Fox 4 City Council did not grant him the one-month pause, saying the debris removal in canals is slated to end in just two weeks.

“The thing that concerned me as staff spoke, was that we didn't really have a plan in place on how we might restore the banks and places where we removed trees and other shrubbery,” said Hayden.

During a City Council meeting, Interim Cape Coral City Manager Michael Ilczyszyn said the canal banks have experienced the same removal process during previous hurricanes.

“We have had this before and we have not had to go out on large scales and perform dredging from erosion that occurs from a bank,” said Ilczyszyn.

Fox 4 asked Hayden if he felt a restoration plan should have already been put in place before the project started back in November.

"I don't know that I feel that way right now but as talk is continued, you know, we have never faced this before,” said Hayden.

A first-time challenge, which Bulcock said caused city contractors to remove too much vegetation.

“They could have just come right in pulled it out and left, and over and over again they kept going,” said Bulcock.

Hayden added that he feels confident moving forward that city staff will prioritize restoration efforts.

City staff did say during that meeting if erosion restoration is needed, they have different options for funding that process.