SaskTel blames 'processing error' for homeowner's distress

SaskTel says a processing error is the reason a Regina man did not receive a written warning or explanation before workers entered his backyard and marked up his garden with paint and utility flags.

Regina man rips utility for letting workers dig up his garden when he wasn't home

SaskTel says it has a legal right to enter a customer's backyard to do work, even if the homeowner isn't home. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

A processing error is the reason a Regina man did not receive written warning before workers entered his backyard and marked up his garden with paint and utility flags, SaskTel says.

Ray Allen's neighbourhood in Regina will soon undergo construction to install the Infinet fibre-optic network.

On Aug. 1, Allen returned home to find workers had been in his backyard. He says he should have been warned they were planning to enter his property.

"I didn't know if somebody was coming in with just a hand shovel just to look at a couple of things, you know, going to dig some small holes, or whether somebody was going to come in with a big excavator and tear my whole yard up," he said.

"It's frustrating and concerning that they can just walk in on your property without even notifying you."

He contacted SaskTel by phone and email but was initially unable to find out why the workers would be marking areas of his yard.

Allen wrote to the corporation chief executive Doug Burnett, who responded with an email saying he would look into what happened. The corporation has since contacted Allen to provide more information. 

SaskTel had 'processing error' 

​SaskTel said in an email to CBC News it usually sends a written notification to homeowners about four weeks before starting construction in a neighbourhood. A door hanger is then placed at each home about two to five days before works begin.

But residents of Allen's neighbourhood did not receive written notification. 
Ray Allen says he wants to know whether SaskTel is planning to dig up his garden after finding paint on his lawn and utility markers in his garden this week. (Submitted by Ray Allen)

"Unfortunately, due to a processing error on our end Mr. Allen's neighbourhood didn't receive the letter we typically send four weeks prior to construction starting," a SaskTel spokesperson wrote in an email. "However every home in Mr. Allen's neighbourhood did receive the door knocker before we began construction."

Allen says he did not receive the door hanger. He was also frustrated with SaskTel's response when he tried to find out what workers were doing in his backyard.

He said the markers were placed in his garden, including a vegetable garden bed where, he said, he and his wife liked to spend their time during Saskatchewan's short summers.

Allen has since put up "no trespassing" signs specifically directed at SaskTel workers and contractors. He has also installed video surveillance so he can monitor his backyard when he is not home.

He said he only wanted to be notified that the workers were going onto his property and why.

"These are all extraordinary steps and I'm just a homeowner who wants to know what's going and who is doing what in my backyard," said Allen.

SaskTel says its employees have legal rights to enter a customer's property to "install, inspect, repair or remove SaskTel facilities and equipment" under The Saskatchewan Telecommunications Act, and upgrading a neighbourhood with its fibre-optic service usually requires access to customers' yards.

Allen says the act should prevent the workers from accessing private property without warning.