Ditch work begins, but resident still unhappy

Spring Road man finally sees work crew, but sounds off on Campbell River's tax levels

After a Spring Road resident said he was “lied to” by the city about ditching work on his street, the city sprung into action.

Crews arrived to do ditching along Spring Road the day after residents complained to council about neglected roads and ditches; the city manager said the work had been scheduled for that date before the neighbours complained.

Richard Paquette and Russell Herding both spoke at a council meeting July 10 to express their displeasure with the condition of their neighbourhood roads.

Herding said he has to deal with a flooded crawl space on an ongoing basis because the city will not dig out sediment-filled drainage ditches along Spring Road, which cause his perimeter drain to back up.

“I’m a steel-trades construction worker who spends up to seven months a year away from home,” Herding said. “Let’s be honest, the last thing I want to do when I’m home is to hear my little gaffers running around upstairs having a heyday and I’m down shop-vaccing the flipping crawl space. It’s disheartening.”

Herding said he’s called the city numerous times to ask about the ditching, with no results.

“A year went past. I waited. I phoned the city again and said ‘what’s with the ditching?’ They said June 15. That week went by. We were just blatantly lied to,” he said.

But last Wednesday, the day after Herding’s delegation to council, the city sent a crew to do the ditching work, which city manager Andy Laidlaw said was scheduled for a number of weeks.

“As scheduled, work started on July 11,” Laidlaw said in a news release.

“Ditching work must occur during summer months when the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans authorizes work in streams or riparian areas and when weather is suitable.

“When (city) staff spoke with Mr. Herding Wednesday, he indicated that he was happy to see the crew out and understood and appreciated the scheduling issue.”

But last week Herding was also unimpressed with his high tax bill and what he sees as his money going to waste.

“My family and I have lived there six years,” he said. “In the span of the six years, my property taxes have gone up to $1,600. Where’s that money going? I don’t understand.”

Herding noted he watched a city tractor take 27 minutes to cut a patch of grass, which he takes his own lawn mower over.

“What’s going on?” Herding asked council. “It comes back to the tax thing. Please deal with the issues…we have a depressed community, the taxes went up and I can’t sell my house. I cannot even sell my house because I have flooding conditions. The taxes are so high who wants to move here?”

Taxes went up 13.6 per cent this year and Laidlaw said homes in the Spring Road area have seen a significant increase in property value assessment.

“Mr. Herding’s property tax bill has increased by about $1,500 since 2007,” Laidlaw said. “About half that pays for city services. The remaining 45 per cent funds other agencies (such as) the regional district, school district, hospital, library, etc.”

As for the amount of time Herding said it took to mow the grass along the roadway, Laidlaw said it was done by a contractor and “the speed of work is proportionate to the density and moisture of material they’re mowing and the terrain travelled” and that “this year’s rainfall has made for exceptionally thick-growing grass.”

Paquette, the other Spring Road resident to take his case up to council last week, was still waiting for answers.

Laidlaw said city staff could not reach Paquette last week and that staff will discuss scheduling for road repairs with Paquette when he’s available.

Paquette has been before council at least three times in the last two years to complain about  the potholes and broken asphalt on Spring Road.