St. Jacobs property owners will find out next week just how much a municipal drain discovered last year will cost them.
A project review meeting is being held on Apr. 26, where GM BluePlan Engineering will present the draft plan, estimated costs, and estimated property assessments, while also hearing input from property owners.
Engineer Matt Ash will finalize the drainage report after the meeting to be submitted for approval by Woolwich council. A copy of the report will be mailed to all affected property owners, along with information regarding the presentation to council for consideration.
The first public meeting was held in August, 2016. St. Jacobs resident Dale Frey says he’s hoping for a better turnout this time around now that residents understand it’s not just property owners who have the pipe beneath their homes that could be affected.
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“Where we stand is we have to make sure we have a lot of people there and I would like to see other communities come in on it,” Frey said.
Jared Puppe, acting manager of engineering for Woolwich Township, explains the first meeting was an onsite meeting, which is required under the Drainage Act.
“It was a notification and fact finding meeting. The upcoming meeting will be providing the benefiting property owners with the outcome of the engineer’s report, which will have proportionate costing assigned to each affected landowner – this will likely be of the greatest interest to all of the stakeholders,” Puppe said.
He says under the Drainage Act, a municipality or public agency has the same rights than any private landowner – no more, no less. This means any private landowner or public authority can petition under the Drainage Act. In this instance, the township was unaware the drain existed until it was uncovered during road construction.
“Despite the lack of knowledge or maintenance being done on the drain, this does not negate its status under the Drainage Act, therefore, council requested that an engineer be obtained to investigate and then report back to council as to their recommendations,” Puppe said.
Residents have previously been given estimates of $5,000 per property, which could in actuality be higher. That’s one of the pieces of information residents should find out at this meeting.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, municipalities can accumulate the cost of maintaining a drain for up to five years or $5,000. This means you may be billed for work that occurred before you owned the property.
“If we were curb and gutter on our side we wouldn’t even be having this discussion now because you would have just gone across the school field, tied it in at Queensway, it would have gone straight to the river, end of story,” Frey said.
He says at the last meeting one of the residents noted that repairs were done to the municipal pipe under her home in 1976 at no cost to her.
Frey is questioning why property owners will likely be on the hook this time around.
“If we don’t resolve it now, once they do it in one town, everybody’s done. And here’s the worst part, that’s one pipe. Two years from now they find another pipe, you’re on the hook again. They’re not being very out front or forthcoming with that,” Frey claimed.
He adds another woman stood up at the meeting and told them she was retired and on a limited income.
“She was devastated,” Frey said.
All residents are welcome to attend the project review meeting for the proposed municipal drain #10 in St. Jacobs on Apr. 26 at 6 p.m. at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church.
Any residents who cannot attend their meeting are encouraged to submit their comments to Ash by May 12.