Billing has resident seeing double

 

By Karen Fallon

Lakewood Drive resident Geoff Kidd believes that the town is double dipping as he pays into the municipal drain as well as being taxed to maintain urban sewers.

The resident is assessed into the Lakewood Drain #2. However, he notes, the municipality should abandon this drain only to assume it as a residential storm sewer.

That way the town will be responsible for the cost of  maintenance.

In October 2008 Kidd first brought the issue forward. At that time a motion was passed to appoint an engineer to provide new assessment schedules dealing with distribution costs regarding the drain.

Since then, says Kidd, the situation has remained the same.

In a report to council at the July 23 meeting, Lou Zarlenga, director of engineering and infrastructure, noted that the town is currently dealing with concerns that rural landowners are assessed into municipal drainage works and are also paying the general tax rate. Therefore, they are being double billed for storm drainage works.

“Generally storm sewers within a built up area are constructed and maintained pursuant to the Municipal Act, while municipal drains are constructed and maintained under the Ontario Drainage Act,” notes Zarlenga in the report. “Both methods of storm drainage have been successfully utilized, however, when built-up areas and rural developments converge the above noted question arises.”

Zarlenga says he is currently requesting assistance from various Ontario municipalities who may have dealt with this issue through the use of policy and procedure.

Currently 277 municipalities are being polled regarding their urban/rural storm drainage assessment. Once compiled this information will be made available to council.

“It is unfair to all affected residents that this should go on any longer,” said Kidd. “I don’t see why council can’t act on this drain tonight.”

Kidd says he believes that the town has abandoned and assumed such drains before as the one in the Crown Ridge Subdivision.

However, notes Zarlenga: “Crown Ridge was constructed by a private developer and it was taken over by the municipality as soon as work was completed and approved by the consulting engineer. It was never a municipal drain.”

Councillor Diane Pouget says that council senses Kidd’s frustration and asked Zarlenga if his issue could be dealt with that night.

Zarlenga responded that he believes that it wouldn’t be a good idea as the town has 200 municipal drains and “whatever decision is made for one everybody else is going to want the same thing.”

However, he noted in response to deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland’s question, he isn’t aware of anyone else who has come forward with such a request.

A large report, says Zarlenga, was forwarded to Kidd noting the involvement of the issue.

There are several options that are currently being explored said Zarlenga.

Councillor Carolyn Davies says “it is so frustrating to see this gentleman; he has done his research, he is reasonable, he presents in a very articulate manner.”

“I feel like I am in a quandary because I understand about opening up the flood gates, but we also have to have a final resolution as quickly as possible,” she added.

Councillor John Sutton says he too can see both sides of the issue and while he wasn’t prepared to deal with the situation that night, he wanted a time-line set on when the completed report would be before council in order to make an informed decision.

Councillor Robert Pillon questioned why the lengthy preliminary report sent to Kidd wasn’t also forwarded to council members.

Administration was directed to bring back a report regarding the possible abandonment of Lakewood Drain #2 by the first meeting in October 2012.

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