MINDEMOYA—With at least one appeal to be made concerning proposed assessments in the McDonald-Bond system drain project, and a court of revision date already set for this and other appeals to be heard, Central Manitoulin council has passed the first two readings for this bylaw.
Staff member Denise Deforge told four members of the public who attended a special meeting of council earlier this month in regards to the drain issue, “We had a report submitted from our engineers under the Drainage Act.” She explained this work had been carried out because a request had been made by local resident Adam McDonald for work on the drain system, and a proposed assessment-cost schedule had been prepared to provide all those residents affected an idea of what their percentage of the work costs would be. The request had been made under section 76 of the Act, “and council needs to consider passing the provisional bylaw for this.”
The meeting was told that anyone questioning their assessment costs of the project can bring them forward at a Court of Revision (scheduled for November 14). Ms. Deforge explained that the Court of Revision is made up of one council member and two members of the public who look at the applications and render a decision. This committee is separate from council, and if local residents still have concerns after this process has taken place they can then appeal this to a tribunal.
“All we’re doing tonight is considering the report that has been given to us,” said Reeve Gerry Strong.
“All I want to do is appeal my assessment,” stated Bill Campbell, and it was pointed out that while the work is not completed, there is a total maintenance cost of approximately $88,000.
“Everyone on the watershed will be billed as part of section 76 of the Drain Act and share in the cost of maintenance,” said Reeve Gerry Strong.
Resident Richard Stephens told council he had a conversation with the municipal engineer, “and I outlined some of my concerns with the way the process takes place. I’ll have to consider if my assessment is reasonable or not.”
The cost of maintenance has been completed, the meeting was told. However, this total will not be billed until all work is completed.
“We have had this type of drainage project for the church, and now the McDonald-Bond drain. It is just drain after drain, and every time one is done it costs us money,” said Mr. Campbell. He questioned who had petitioned for the drain lines to be looked out in the first place.
“The original clean up and maintenance came after a request from Adam McDonald,” said Mr. Strong.
It was further pointed out that it is only carried out if the municipal drain superintendent feels the work should be done. And if the system is not running as well as it is designed to he has the obligation to report this and have maintenance undertaken, said Ms. Deforge.
“Do you first go to all the property owners who are going to be affected if they agree to have this work done?” questioned Mr. Stephens, to which it was pointed out this is not the case.
“It is silly that these drain projects continue, and it is costing folks thousands of dollars,” said Mr.
“Once a person makes a request for their drain to be looked at and maintenance is needed, and the drain superintendent says yes this is the case, we have to go ahead under the act. Is it fair to everyone on the system, probably not, but we have to carry this out under the act,” said Mr. Strong.
“When the province came out with the Drainage Act in 1961, and when a request is made for work to be done, everyone on the drain system pays for it,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “Do I agree with the process, not necessarily, but we have to follow it.”
“Why doesn’t the government take care of it?” asked Wallace Campbell.
However, it was pointed out there are two-thirds funding grants in place for farmland.
“You had better believe I will be appealing this one,” said Bill Campbell.
“I understand what Bill is saying. I looked at the four largest assessments for this project, and three of us didn’t know this was going to be carried out, and we have no input on the work or paying the costs,” said Mr. Stephens.
Councillor Gloria Haner said, “we have a drain on our property, and when the system needs to be cleaned out we call the municipality before this becomes a big problem, and this work can be done in house.”
“So in this case, everyone has to pay because one person makes a request,” said Bill Campbell.
“Our hands are tied, we have to follow the drainage act,” said Mr. Strong.
Council passed a provisional bylaw, giving the first two readings.