King Koin Laundromat owner Youssef Khattab says the city’s sloping sidewalk and a lack of drainage mean his business often floods during heavy rains. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Flood concerns ‘a city issue and they know it’

White Rock officials say improvements, including drainage, slated to begin next year

It took Youssef Khattab nearly two hours to mop up water that flooded his White Rock business in Wednesday morning’s downpour.

Khattab, owner of King Koin Laundromat, said it wasn’t the first time he’s been stuck with such a mess – it happens with pretty much every downpour.

But while Khattab is certain that the city’s sloping sidewalk, coupled with a lack of drainage, is to blame, he said multiple requests to have the problems addressed have gotten him nowhere.

“It is a city issue and they know it,” Khattab said.

“Always they say, ‘it’s your building.’ OK, it’s my building – but what about your sidewalk?’”

The laundromat is located in uptown White Rock, at 1484 Johnston Rd. The red-brick sidewalk that borders the road out front is heaving from tree roots, and at the road’s edge is noticeably higher than the business’s front entrance.

Khattab said he has been “complaining to the city” about the flooding issue for about a decade, and said he has asked for the sidewalk to be levelled, or for a drain to be installed.

“Anytime there is rain, the water is accumulating outside the store and comes inside,” he said.

He said he’s been told the solution is to raise his front door an inch, but said that is not an option as it would create a tripping hazard and limit access to the business for people who bring their laundry in carts or rely on a wheelchair.

Thursday, the city’s communications manager, Farnaz Farrokhi said she wasn’t aware of Khattab’s past discussions with the city, but that she would look into it.

At the same time, Farrokhi noted that the Johnston Road Streetscape is being revitalized, “to improve (its) vibrancy and functionality.”

“Sidewalk and drainage improvements will be included in the Johnston Road project, which is to begin early next year,” Farrokhi said by email.

Khattab said the promise of future improvements is “not convenient.”

“It’s getting worse and worse, more and more,” he said of the problem.

Wednesday, after the rain had subsided, large pools of water remained both inside and outside of Khattab’s business. Fortunately, water that flowed into the laundromat pooled on its north side, where washing machines are mounted on a raised concrete floor.

While Khattab said the issue hasn’t caused damage in the past – “but it’s annoying because you have to stop the work” – this time it caused the floor’s new coat of paint to peel.