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Benefit of the doubt


One of the largest delegations to address the Lewisporte Town Council attended a special meeting on Sept. 13 to discuss the Sept. 1 storm sewer flooding and sewer back-up.

One of the largest delegations to address the Lewisporte Town Council attended a special meeting on Sept. 13 to discuss the Sept. 1 storm sewer flooding and sewer back-up.

Homeowners and property owners made it known that repeat flooding — for some of them it was their third flood in 15 years, for one person flooding of their home dates back 20 years and another 51 years — is an issue the municipality has to deal with, now.

Each person in that room had their own story to share of worry, stress and frustration. Wanda Lee Chaulk of Spruce Avenue moved into her home with her family six months ago. She was helpless to stop 10-12 inches of sewer water from pouring into their basement. The stress of watching this happen is one thing. Now she has to deal with the clean-up, repairs, increase to insurance premiums (many homeowners with repeated flooding can’t even purchase insurance) and a possible decrease in the value of her home. Her biggest fear though is for her children, who are also going through the stress of the flood, but who she worries about down the road if there will be health issues in the home due to the flooding.

In speaking to council she said, “The Town was utterly in control of the infrastructure and they failed miserably.”

Ken Tucker was another impacted homeowner. Due to flooding in the past he had to take action with a legal challenge. He noted the stress and anxiety involved, and it’s not something he wishes to go through again. He said there have been problems with the storm sewer system for the past 15 years at least, but nothing has been done by the Town to deal with it. He added however that he has seen more action on this matter in the last two or three weeks than he has in those 15 years, so he is optimistic the problems will be addressed.

Wade Colbourne also addressed council. With repeated flooding of his basement he has taken to not putting anything of value down there.

“I can’t trust it,” he said.

For people who have been through extremely stressful situations, they restrained any anger at the meeting and there was a real sense from both sides that they need to work together if the flooding issues are going to be dealt with.

It could have been a much different meeting, with both sides defending their points. But with the Town admitting from the get go that there are indeed capacity issues with the system and apologizing for lack of action, it seemed to allow residents the chance to give them the benefit of the doubt this time.

As Mr. Colbourne had said, he has seen a change in attitude of council and looks forward to seeing progress. You can be sure if that progress stalls or gets off track, Mr. Colbourne and the residents who were in attendance at the Sept. 13 meeting will once again be before council. Now that the problems have been identified, no one is willing to accept anything other than them being immediately dealt with.

 

- Karen Wells

editor@pilotnl.ca                

 

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