A Beaconsfield woman is in disbelief after spending $40,000 on landscaping on her front property, only to be told by the city that part of it will be ripped up — and she will have to foot the bill.
Melanie Oana came home from work this week to find markers on her front yard of where city crews will dig.
"To spend more money, I don't have it. I don't know how much it's going to cost us."
Months of inquiring
Oana and her husband started asking questions back in March about the necessary paperwork required.
The work they wanted to do included expanding their driveway to make it a two-lane garage, cutting down trees and covering a ditch.
The surface-water drainage system in Beaconsfield, which dates back to the 1950s, was originally designed as a series of open ditches. The ditches allow storm waters to be absorbed back into the soil quickly.
At the time, Oana says she was told that she could not touch the ditch at the edge of her front lawn.
But she asked further questions, even speaking to a city councillor and sending city hall all the plans.
Finally in May, she got the paper work from the urban planning department.
"This is the permit that we were issued from the city … and we have the approval stamp."
So the work got done, including all the ditch work.
Then in June, she got a call from the city.
"[It was] from Public Works saying, 'We didn't approve the ditch filling,'" Oana told CBC.
One week later, Oana got a letter stating that the city would dig up the ditch and would send her the bill for it.
Oana and some of her neighbours say clearly the wires were crossed at city hall.
"People make mistakes. It's not a big deal but just don't make residents pay the price," said neighbour Corey Black.
No miscommunication, mayor says
However, the city says there was never any miscommunication.
Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle says the permits granted were only for the driveway work and the felling of one tree.
"Filling the ditch was not something that was permitted by the city and no permit was ever issued for that purpose," Bourelle told CBC.
He added that there are letters clearly stating that Oana could not cover the ditch because it's city land and serves as a protective measure against flash flooding.
"I feel sorry for the situation.I really do and I understand that it's an unfortunate thing that did happen, but at this point we have to respect the fact that we issued the two permits: one for the felling of the tree and one for the widening of the driveway — nothing else."
Bourelle says the cost to dig up the ditch and pipes in Oana's front yard could cost anywhere upwards of $3,000.
Oana has hired a lawyer and is prepared to fight the matter in court.
"I did what I needed to do: I sought counsel, I spoke to councillors, I went to city officials," she said.