The Municipality of North Grenville is one of three defendants named in a legal suit being brought by the owners of the condominiums at Kemptville Meadows on Concession Road in Kemptville. The owners, acting as Grenville Standard Condominium Corporation No. 13 [GSCC13], are bringing the action in relation to “substandard installation of the potable water supply service”, and to recover damages and costs which are involved in repairing the system. The parties named in the action are the Stanley Fields Cooperative Development Corporation, the LA Group, and the Municipality of North Grenville.
Currently, the Statement of Claim for the action has been issued by the courts, but not yet served on the defendants, pending negotiations aimed at reaching an out-of-court settlement in the matter. The lawyers for GSCC13, Nelligan O’Brien Payne, have established the procedure they will follow in the case:
“If a resolution is reached that is satisfactory to GSCC No. 13, the Claim will be formally withdrawn from Court. However, if an out-of-Court settlement cannot be reached, GSCC No. 13 will have the option to formally pursue the Claim through the Court process.”
The problems covered by the claim are of long standing, but the most immediate issue stems from an unexpected water bill from the municipality for more than $60,000 in excess of normal levels. At one stage, it seems the Municipality threatened to cut off the water supply to the condominiums unless the bills were paid.
The developers of the project, the Stanley Fields Cooperative Development Corporation were contacted, according to residents, but “refused to accept responsibility” for the problem, so the residents turned to the LA Group for help. The LA Group was the site builder on the project, although much of the actual installation was done through sub-contractors. The help sought by the residents was provided by the LA Group, and the investigation uncovered broken and leaking pipes in the system at Kemptville Meadows. LA Group became involved with a water leak that occurred in 2014. They found and repaired two broken pipes leading into units. There was a subsequent leak in February of 2015, and the Condominium Board contacted Flow-Master for an inspection and repair. The initial engineering firm involved was JP2G Consultants, which was brought in by Flow Master. Keller Engineering, an Ottawa engineering firm, was then hired by the Board to do a more full inspection and analysis in the spring of 2015, and to see if the potable water supply installations had been carried out in accordance with the 2005 Ontario Building Code, the Ontario Provincial Standards, and good construction practice. Installation is also governed by the Ontario Provincial Standards for Roads and Public Works [OPSD].
Keller Engineering’s report, issued in September, 2015, was quite damning. It identified not one, but five potential causes for the leaks, including open valves, unsupported pipes and valves which became damaged when impacted by seasonal ground shifting, and the failure to install pipes sufficiently deep in the ground. The report also identified the potential for contamination of the potable water by groundwater leaking into the system through broken and damaged pipes, and open valves. The recommendations made in the Keller Report require considerable excavation and replacement of sections of the water system, and this is one of the costs being sought by GSCC13. There is a question of whether the Municipality had inspected the water system before approving the opening of the project for sale.
It would appear that this is just one of many concerns and grievances on the part of the residents, and it is also one which may have an impact on the wider community. Kemptville Meadows was originally put forward as an affordable housing project, and was given zoning and planning permission by the Municipality as such in 2010. In order to provide funds for purchasers who would not otherwise be able to buy their own homes, the Municipality agreed to defer payment of the usual Development Charges on the project for ten years. At the time, this was calculated to cost the Municipality more than $400,000 in lost interest charges. But taxpayers were assured that there was not danger of money being lost on the venture, as the Municipality would be repaid. After the deferral period expired at the end of ten years, the development charges would come due and would be paid by either the homeowner or the Stanley Fields Cooperative Development Corporation.
But the project has been beset by controversy from the start, and remains incomplete. Only 88 of a planned 136 units are actually built, and construction of the rest, Phase 3, has not been started. Of the 88 units available, only around 35 were sold, and today about 50 are occupied by owners and renters, and that number seems to be dropping. Some residents are reported to have “abandoned” their homes because the property has been devalued, payments cannot be made, and regulations make it very difficult for owners to rent out their units. The future of the project is uncertain, the law suit is unresolved, and more concerns seem likely to surface in the coming months. It is hoped that the current talks will result in a settlement that clarifies the situation for all involved.