A Rimbey senior who left for a two-week holiday this summer was unpleasantly surprised to find her driveway ripped up when she returned home.
Pamela Kurmey, who lives in Rim West Crescent, approached council, Mon. Sept. 21 to request financial retribution of around $5,100 for repairs to her driveway and the cost of repairing a leaking water valve which was under the cement.
She was accompanied by her son-in-law, Merit Shank.
In her presentation to council, Kurmey explained she noticed her water valve leaking more than four years ago.
“I phoned public works but was told to ‘start digging. It wasn’t my problem.’”
She said the problem had continued and she had notified public works several times, but received no response until this year.
Kurmey attended council to voice her displeasure at having her verbal complaints ignored, coming home to a wrecked driveway and, finally, being told she was responsible for the costs of repairing the leaking valve including damage to her driveway.
“I’m here to ask you not to charge me for something I am not responsible for,” she said.
Public works director Rick Schmidt said he wasn’t aware of the problem until this year. He then responded to the issue immediately.
“I went out with a detector, but I couldn’t find a water leak.”
However, later this summer he was driving down the street when he noticed water running down the curb at Kurmey’s address. Further checking finally revealed a leak in the water valve. The majority of the leakage is on Kurmey’s property, but there is also a small leak on the town side, he said.
Schmidt said the leaks were a public health issue and required action.
“We tried to contact Mrs. Kurmey but she was away.
Public works staff contacted gas, power and utility companies to ensure underground lines were not damaged and contractors were hired to dig up the water valve so the repairs could be made.
The water valve has since been replaced, but the damage to the driveway has not been fixed.
The town’s bylaw pertaining to blockages and breaks on water and sewer lines states property owners are responsible for all repairs inside the property.
However, council is not prepared to adhere to the bylaw until they check with other municipalities of similar size. The possibility of paying for at least some of the costs associated with the issue was discussed.
Mayor Rick Pankiw said allowing a driveway to be built over the water valve was poor planning.
My thoughts are the town should shoulder some of the costs,” he said.
Coun. Mathew Jaycox said there should have been some caveat in place to assume potential costs.
“Coun. Jack Webb apologized for the alleged ill treatment Kurmey received and asked if she would be happy with a 50/50split of costs if the rest of council were agreeable.
However, Shank, speaking on behalf of his mother-in-law refused the offer.
By assuming costs the town would set precedence, noted Coun. Paul Payson.
Council will deal with the issue at its next meeting.