Letter: drainage woes in South Dundas

 

Dear Editor

In reference to our issues with South Dundas over our drain problem, we would like to think we can depend on our township to supply us with information and follow proper procedures. Seems we are being held more accountable than they are.

The form that was brought around to Jake’s neighbours had a list of names on the front. Most were printed, one was even written by one person to include their spouse as in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. Jointly owned properties had only the name of one owner represented. 

When the office staff in charge of drainage received this form, they should have rejected it from the start. But they chose to send it ahead to their engineer without having it properly filled in.

The engineer then gets his crack at it. When asked at the township meeting about the necessity of ALL property owner’s signatures his response was “as long as he saw one name it was good enough for him.” 

When asked about the fact that most names were just printed, his response was “they could have signed with an “X”. (Wouldn’t signatures of witnesses be needed?)

Mr. Byvelds indicated he requested a letter from the engineer to see how he validated the petition. In his response he did not address any of our concerns about the missing joint owner signatures, but continued to use them in his calculations.

By doing this he was able to reach 65 per cent representation of the land needed. He needed 60 per cent for the petition to be valid, but if you remove the names of properties with missing joint owner signatures, the land represented falls down to 47 per cent. Not enough for a valid petition according to the Drainage Act.

To support the requirement for these signatures here is a quote from a Superior Court of Justice in the Court of the drainage referee case: “The first matter is whether all signatures of joint owners, co-owners and partners are necessary on a petition. The answer is they are. If land is held by husband and wife, whether jointly or as co-owners, both have to sign the petition… this is for purposes of the Drainage Act.”

I attended a drainage meeting held in Avonmore this spring, searching for information, where I asked Sid Vander Veen, the Drainage Coordinator from OMAFRA, questions about joint owners both having to sign for a petition to be valid. He confirmed that yes they do and on viewing this petition said it was invalid and suggested I retain the services of a lawyer.

Mr. Byvelds was also at this meeting so once again was made aware of the need for all signatures. He also was sent the above  court case, but still continues to support his drainage engineer.

I have attempted to speak to council about this issue, but have been refused and told the issue is closed. 

My lawyer has contacted this township but they continue to ignore him. He has indicated “there never was a valid petition executed in the proper manner by petitioners and therefore section 10 of the Drainage Act has no application to these proceedings.”

What if the engineer is wrong, Mr. Byvelds? What if the drainage staff at the township did not complete the simple task of having forms filled in properly? 

The Superior Court of Justice and the Provincial Drainage Coordinator seem to have views different than you and your staff.

We as individuals seem to be held much more responsible for knowing the ins and outs of these drainage issues than those being well paid to do this.

Bert Geertsma

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