Carleton Place council holds Property Standards committee meeting

Carleton Place town hall.
Photo credit: carletonplace.ca
Posted on: October 22, 2019

On Sept 10th Carleton Place council took the rare step of convening a Property Standards committee meeting to review an appeal submitted by a resident regarding a municipal order to remedy an issue with her home. This committee is comprised of all members of council, the mayor and deputy-mayor. Nicole Pearson (known well in the community as the organizer of the annual Brett Pearson Run for Your Life fundraiser) received a visit at her Arthur St duplex home from the town’s bylaw officer in late 2018. A neighbour had complained to the town that rainwater was running off of Pearson’s home onto their property. The cause identified by town staff was the lack of an eaves trough on one small section of Pearson’s roof. She reports that she has tried numerous times to obtain a contractor to quote on installing an eaves trough on the section in question, but had experienced difficulty due to the close proximity of her home’s electrical service entry to the roof edge involved and the small scope of the job. In order to comply with workers’ safety regulations, the contractors required that the service be disconnected during the installation.  This was reported to town staff, according to Pearson as soon as it became apparent.

After a series of communications between Pearson and town staff (which included dealing with a replacement bylaw officer due to a personnel change), the town issued an order for Pearson to install the eaves trough. She appealed that order which led to the September committee meeting. There she was permitted to outline her situation and council also heard from the current bylaw officer involved.

Pearson indicated her home was built in 1994 and to her knowledge met building codes in effect at the time. She purchased the property in Dec 2007 and learned that at least 2 other owners had occupied the residence before she moved in. Her first question to the committee was, “why wasn’t this an issue before?” The town’s response to Hometown News on the issue of codes came from bylaw officer Kurt Fisher who explained that council has the ability to enforce higher standards than Ontario building codes. Pearson brought up a conversation between herself and town staff in Nov of 2018 where they indicated that the drainage problem was actually caused by her neighbour’s property (the complainants) and not hers. Fisher’s response to this point was “a condition on a neighbouring property doesn’t give someone the right to violate property standards bylaws”.

When asked by Hometown News if the complainants provided any proof of damage to their property caused by Pearson’s roof drainage, Fisher’s answer was “diverting roof water onto neighbouring properties is a violation of the Property Standards Bylaw regardless of whether or not the water does damage to the property”.

During the committee meeting when Pearson outlined some of the difficult conversations she had with her neighbours over this matter and her position that their roof was directing rainwater onto her own property, Councilor Theresa Fritz asked her why she didn’t file her own complaint against them. She replied she was trying to keep the peace.  Pearson also noted in her presentation that she asked bylaw staff for their interpretations of specific sections of the bylaw to improve her own understanding but received no reply.

In the end, the committee voted to order Pearson to comply with the order to install an eaves trough and gave her a deadline of Nov 15. If the work was not completed by that date, the town warned it would obtain its own contractor to do the job and bill Pearson accordingly. She reports she has dealt with 7 different eaves trough firms since the first bylaw officer visit without obtaining a reasonable price or time commitment but she finally has some promise.  A company has responded and has been contracted and hopes to have the installation complete by the Nov 15 deadline.

Pearson feels she is being unfairly singled out on this issue as no one can demonstrate that the water coming off one small gable of her home is causing any damage to her neighbour’s property and that if the town is set on enforcing this order, they should examine every property in their jurisdiction to see if everyone is in compliance.

Article by Brian Turner