by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Kemptville resident, and former Mayor of Kemptville, Ralph Raina, is speaking out regarding a dispute with his property that has a history dating back nearly 60 years. Ralph showed this reporter plans for a sewer line easement to be built on the property line between his property and his neighbour’s then-vacant lot in the 1960s. However, at the time, Ralph didn’t know there were plans for a sewer line, and while he was away on vacation in 1964, the sewer line was built without his permission or knowledge, and ended up being put 15ft underground, through his property, very close to his home’s foundation.
Ralph told the Times that he has spent decades fighting for his rights, always fearful of sewer backups and potential damage to his foundation from the initial installation, as well as the potential for a decrease in the value of his home for his heirs when he passes away. Ralph’s home has had multiple sewer backups over the years, including one so bad that sewage was leaking out of his back door. His home also experienced a recent incident in which sewage was coming in through the basement wall, which runs adjacent to the sewer line.
Regarding the issue, Ralph has had much correspondence with current Mayor Nancy Peckford, as well as Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman and other Municipal officials, such as Director of Public Works Karen Dunlop. Ralph showed this reporter some of the letters exchanged, including one containing a list of his requests to the Municipality. “You know how they have toll roads in Toronto? Well I want a toll sewer,” Ralph joked, noting that the sewer on his lot is the only one in Kemptville that runs through private property.
Over the years, Ralph has sought corrections to the infrastructure, compensation for the use of his land, and answers from local politicians about why there is no record to be found of the supposed easement on his property. Now, decades later, and with the most recent sewer backup happening only a month ago, he just wants someone from the Municipality to sit down with him until the problem is finally resolved. Ralph provided a letter from Mayor Peckford in which she agrees that the Municipality will reimburse any legal costs from registering the easement, but only if the matter is kept out of the courts.
The Times contacted the Municipality for a comment, and Corporate Media Relations Officer, Jill Sturdy, responded with a message to all residents, encouraging them to install backwater valves on their sewer lines, and to be mindful about what they put down the drain. “It is important that products such as oils and grease and non-flushable wipes not be used in homeowners’ drains, as they can create a blockage,” Jill said. She also confirmed that the sewer line had been inspected prior to the most recent incident, and no issues were found.
Mayor Peckford offered her own comment, saying: “On December 18, at approximately 9 pm, Mr. Raina called to alert me to a reported backup at [his street] at his home and neighbouring property. I immediately reached out to staff who were deployed to the area within the hour. Once onsite, Municipal staff confirmed that there was a blockage due to grease and waste, which was found after further investigation. The situation was fixed that night, and staff remained onsite to ensure everything was running smoothly.”
Ralph shared many other insights on the current state of local affairs, but his biggest source of stress will likely remain the easement issue so long as a satisfactory resolution does not come.
I recall from my time as North Grenville’s engineer, that Ex-Mayor Raina owned the lowest house in town (near the Kemptville Creek). Indeed one of the Town’s sewer collectors runs nearby. It was installed many decades ago. The proximity of an easement (legal right of utility passage across private land) however has nothing to do with the likelihood of sewage back-ups. Buying the lowest building in the town does. This looks to be an issue of buyer beware. Thank you Ontario for pressing for Municipal amalgamation… so that we finally get responsible municipal government.
You know what they say about Karma, Ralph, it’s a _____!