Pothole vigilante ordered to remove gravel, could face fine

A Saint John man who filled in some potholes with gravel has been ordered by the city to undo the work and has been told he could be fined.

Mike Defazio says he got tired of waiting for City of Saint John to fix potholes on Broadway Avenue

A Saint John man who filled in some potholes with gravel has been ordered by the city to undo the work and has been told he could be fined.

Mike Defazio, who owns Defazio Autobody, says he recently blew a tire on one of several large potholes on Broadway Avenue at Simpson Drive.

Mike Defazio, who filled in some potholes on Saint John's Broadway Avenue, has been ordered by the city to remove the gravel. (CBC)
"Some of them were eight or 10 inches wide and two feet long and almost a foot deep," he told CBC News.

"I just got fed up because they had been here for quite some time and nobody looked like they were doing anything."

So Defazio decided to take matters into his own hands last Saturday and spent half the day filling in the potholes using his tractor.

"I’ve had numerous people saying, ‘What you did was a good thing.’ I've never had anybody saying it was a bad thing," he said.

But on Wednesday, he got a call from the city's deputy commissioner of transportation and environment services Kevin Rice, informing him he had broken the city's bylaws and could face a fine.

"I thought that I wasn’t really doing anything wrong, but he sure straightened me out on that matter," said Defazio.

The city does not allow private citizens to do road work.

Some of the potholes on Broadway Avenue that Mike Defazio filled with gravel. (CBC)
​Defazio says Rice also told him some people had complained about possible damage from the gravel and city officials had expressed concerns about insurance claims.

"He said people were saying that a rock could be kicked up, or, you know, it could chip your windshield, it could scratch your paint, or whatever," said Defazio. "I said, 'Has it happened?' He says, 'Well, I don’t know if it’s happened, but it could happen.'"

Defazio says he was told city crews would be out to remove his work and he would have to cover the costs.

But he was worried about how much the price tag might end up being, so he offered to return the street to its original pot-holed state himself.

"He said, 'Fine. If you look after it, we'll come out tomorrow morning and we'll do an inspection and if it's up to our standards, then fine. If not, we're still gonna bring a crew in and you're gonna be charged,'" Defazio said.

Defazio hired a local contractor to remove most of the gravel, but he and one of his employees were out on Thursday digging and sweeping.

He says he's out the cost of the original pothole work, plus $450 to pay the contractor.

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