Couple plagued with flooding problem goes after town

Sueann Musick
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STELLARTON – Pat and Alex MacInnis are ready to take court action if the Town of Stellarton won’t fix a flooding problem in their backyard. 

Pat and Alex MacInnis of Bridge Avenue, Stellarton stand in their backyard is currently dry, but can filled with two feet of water at times. They say the water comes from a run off in the town and a pipe the town installed 40 years ago is no longer doing its job. 

Sueann Musick – The News 

The Bridge Avenue couple say they have been forced to place sandbags by their basement door, deal with a flooded basement on numerous occasions and lost the use of a percentage of their backyard because of an ineffective drainpipe that runs through their property.  

The MacInnises said they built their house at 83 Bridge Ave. about 30 years ago and haven’t had any problems with water until the last few years. 

Alex said an inspection was done by a local company determined the 160 foot drainage pipe that runs throughout the property is clear up to 80 feet and than clogged after that causing backup run-off water to flood onto their property and into their neighbour’s yards. 

“There are a lot of small children in the area and they walk through our backyard,” Pat said, adding the water can get as high as two feet and  “I am afraid of them drowning. I can’t be watching the backyard 24 hours and I don't want to be responsible for them drowning.” 

In May, Stellarton town council sent a letter to the MacInnises stating it would work to correct the problem. They said the town engineer had visited their home and told them the best solution would be to install two manholes at the corners in the back of the property and run a new pipe alongside the home to another drainage hole on their front lawn.  

However, a short time later, they received another letter from the town’s solicitor stating they were not going to do the work because there is no proof the pipe causing the problems was installed by the town and that the low level of their own property is the cause. 

“Our neighbour stood on his doorstep 40 years ago and watched the town put the pipe in,” said Alex. “It’s the town’s pipe and the water is running off from the property above us,.The water is not coming from our property.”

The MacInnises said after receiving the second letter, they consulted a lawyer, but they are waiting to see how a council meeting turns out this coming Monday before they make their next move. 

“We told them we will take it to court if we have to,” said Pat.

Although he agrees the larger repair with the new pipe and manholes would be the better solution, at this point, he is willing to have the existing pipe repaired with the hope it would last another 30 years. 

Town engineer Tony Addis said he believes “in all probability” the town put in the pipe, but there is a stipulation in the municipal government act that work cannot be done on private property. 

Mayor Joe Gennoe said his concern is that fixing this problem could cause many other people to come forward with their own flooding issues. 

“Who is going to fix all of them?” he asked. 

Coun. Ken Francis said this is a different situation and cases will have to be handled on an individual basis. 

“They didn’t create the problem,” he said. “The drain placed there is not working.”

Addis said the problem with replacing the drain is that it requires digging up some mature trees and replacing the pipe so that it will flow properly. He also blamed a change in global temperatures that is causing more rain to come down and create new flooding problems. 

“He has a low spot by his back door and a low spot about 50 feet behind his house,” he said. “All I’ve ever seen was a shallow pond. When the pond fills up, it floods into their basement.” 

Francis said council must help the MacInnises find a solution to their problem and continue working with them, despite a recent motion saying the town it was washing its hands of the matter. 

“The issue cannot be dropped,” he said. “We have to contact Mr. MacInnis and determine what could be done. We have to show we are trying to with them and show we are taking some degree of responsibility.  We want to respect them and we are working with them to a degree.”

Council will revisit the issue this Monday during a special meeting and is expected to rescind the earlier motion to not repair the property.

Organizations: Stellarton town council

Geographic location: Bridge Avenue

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Recent comments

  • Jenine
    September 15, 2013 - 18:35

    Hey Tony, the earth's temp has DROPPED for the last 17 years! Don't blame it on the owners and David Suzuki, FIX THE PROBLEM the town created! I'm damn sure it'd be fixed if it was on your property.

    • JohnBoy
      September 16, 2013 - 00:21

      That's why Tony dose not live in Stellarton so he does not have issues like this

  • Vernon S
    September 14, 2013 - 17:38

    Come on- global warming to blame??? Really?? At what point do you run out of excuses and own up to your responsibilites? Taxes are collected for more then just paying the wages of elected officials

  • GBoone
    September 14, 2013 - 16:10

    You can work on private property if you put an easement in place for the pipe lots of Municipalities do this. I am sure the owners would agree to an easement if the Town does the legal work and survey to create it. I believe the MGAct also states that you cant push storm water onto a private property which appears to be happening. All the best to Alex and Pat. G Boone Greenhill

  • J. Smith
    September 14, 2013 - 13:15

    Come on Stellarton...own up to your responsibilites.Fix this problem at no charge to the homeowner. No need for lawyers to be involved, it's just common sense.....and a comment to the Mayor about his question; that if fixing this problem could cause many other people to come forward with their own flooding issues.“Who is going to fix all of them?” Well guess what..if pipes are old or not installed properly then it's Stellarton's responsibility to repair them ALL. Afterall, your citizens are paying taxes to upkeep these pipes and drainage systems...and should I mention, put YOU in office to look after their concerns.

  • D. MacDonald
    September 13, 2013 - 20:05

    This sounds like the Town of Stellarton needs a new engineer. The root of this problem is not caused by global warming but by a damaged pipe. It is my experience as Civil Engineer that when I pipe is installed underground within a municipality or township it generally it the responsibility of that municipality or township to maintain infrastructure. Bad form Stellarton!