The strength of personal conviction counts for a lot when you’re up against faceless bureaucracy.
After a long haul and plenty of determination, the Visser family in Sutherlands River finally won recognition that their claim was justified against the province regarding degradation of their property. The pride and joy they’d known for 40 years as home was transformed into a construction zone as work was done to twin the Trans-Canada Highway.
Johannes and Faye Visser made their case and waited a couple of years to hear if there would be any kind of settlement. Before the Sept. 6 decision from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board awarding the family just over $100,000, Johannes passed away.
While the Vissers said they understood the need for the highway expansion, they claimed they were misled about the degree to which their lives and home would be disrupted.
In addition to a non-stop barrage of noise, was the constant dust and extensive damage to both house and property from the construction vibration. Many elements of home life they were no longer able to enjoy.
As the family made its case known, those representing the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal – without proper investigation – contended the construction wasn’t the cause of the damage.
Ultimately, the department hemmed and hawed, dragged their heels, forcing the matter toward resolution through more costly means involving lawyers and the NSURB – which, fortunately, recognized the family had presented a solid case.
It should be noted that the MLA for the area, Clarrie MacKinnon, and staff were sympathetic and tried to help the Vissers in their plight. He also approached The News about it, which helped mount publicity for the case.
But somewhere in the process, the stone wall of bureaucracy the family had been facing stood fast. Thankfully there’s a just outcome, one that we hope will establish a precedent so others aren’t steamrolled in the name of progress.