Residents of The Estates at Creekstone neighbourhood are dealing with smelly drainage problems in front of their condos and want to re-direct that sump pump water into the sanitary sewer system.
The City of Moose Jaw refuses to let them do that since it would contravene The Building Bylaw, and instead, has suggested they hire an engineering firm to connect them to the storm sewer system.
Since the condos are on private property, the board would be responsible for all costs of pursuing that suggestion, a city council report said.
Frustrated with this idea, the condo board spoke to city council during its Oct. 24 regular meeting and asked that the three affected units be exempted from the bylaw so they could run their sump pumps directly into the sewer lines.
Instead, council voted unanimously to receive and file the report — essentially, to take no action. However, council instructed city administration to follow up with the board and developer and report back in a month.
David Paxman, condo board president, explained that when developer New Rock built the 25 condo units, it did not install storm drains in the cul-de-sac. So, when some residents release the water from their sump pumps to the storm drain in a nearby grassy area, the slope doesn’t allow it.
“This results in a mess on our street due to the standing water that traffic has to drive through. In the summer, we have an unsightly, smelly, unsanitary street,” he said.
“Due to the growth of algae, this area is unsafe to walk on. In winter, we have an ice problem that makes it hazardous for walking.”
Most condo units have sump pumps that run year-round, but the three affected units’ pumps are a little lower in the ground, so they run regularly, Paxman added. Most owners pump their water onto the grass with no problems, but the three affected owners attempt to do the same, creating a mess.
City hall’s view
Bevan Harlton, director of engineering services, explained that city hall would not use taxpayers’ money to improve that street since it is private property. Instead, the condo board could hire an engineering firm to connect the units to the storm sewer system.
Paxman admitted that he didn’t understand that option, while the condo owners wanted to avoid spending money since it would be expensive to rip open the street.
“Every street in the city has a storm drain except for us. We don’t understand … why we don’t have a storm drain (installed),” he added. “We need somebody with muscle (to help us), which you have and we don’t.”
There should be checks and balances to ensure sewer drains are not missed when developments are created, said Coun. Dawn Luhning. She was concerned that developers were not abiding by standards and leaving neighbourhoods without storm drain access.
Luhning also wondered if the developer had paid off-site levies when creating that community. If so, the city should use that money to install the storm drain.
There should be checks and balances when developments are approved, agreed Harlton. Although he wasn’t in charge when this site was approved in 2012, he would have referred to The Building Bylaw to ensure everything was installed correctly.
He added that his department has worked with planning and development to create a checklist that developers must follow when building a new neighbourhood.
“That doesn’t help the condo board with this issue,” said Luhning. “I do think that we have to possibly try and come up with some kind of fix for them, whatever that might be.”
New neighbourhoods have a two-year warranty under which the developer is responsible for repairs, but the Creekstone Estates is 10 years old, said Harlton. Since this is also private property, the city does not clear its roads or catch basins.
That property is where city hall dumped snow decades ago, so that ground is usually saturated with moisture and the water table is high, said Coun. Doug Blanc.
He agreed that developers should have correctly built that area, while he thought city hall needed to hold developers accountable, so situations like this didn’t occur and become problems for taxpayers.
The condo board should have addressed this problem with the developer during the two-year warranty period, while to expect taxpayers to address the problem now is unfair, said Coun. Heather Eby. She agreed that the board should have an engineering firm connect the units to the storm sewer system.
“I have sympathy with the development, but I really do think this problem … should really fall on the shoulders of New Rock,” she added.
The next regular council meeting is Monday, Nov. 14.