Two Kirkland councillors abstained from voting in a new reimbursement policy regarding crossed drainage pipe repairs on Monday.
The contentious issue has been brewing for over a year. Kirkland, after
acknowledging it had paid for crossed pipes repairs at a number of
homes dating back to the late 1980s and early ’90s, has increased the
reimbursement maximum to $5,000 for most homes affected with the
problem. Aside from plumbing repairs, the new policy will also
reimburse homeowners for required excavation and landscaping work,
which it did not under the terms of the city’s previous policy adopted
a year ago.
Last August, the city had decided to offer to pay 50 per cent of the
cost of repairs, up to a maximum of $1,800, to correct the crossed
pipes based on environmental concerns. During the first half of 2011,
however, the city had steadfastly refused to pay for any repairs.
On Monday, André Allard, a central figure in a defamation case the
city launched against resident Sergei Brovkin regarding a couple of
posts on a citizen’s blog last year, as well as Domenico Zito abstained
from voting on the new reimbursement policy. Five other councillors
voted in favour, while another was absent from the meeting.
Previously, all eight councillors and Mayor John Meaney were
unanimous in supporting any city position regarding the crossed pipes.
In April, Allard, after initially voting on the matter, requested it
officially be recorded that he abstained from voting to appeal the
When asked by residents to explain, Allard said he abstained on
Monday as a matter of principle since he had crossed pipes fixed at his
home last year.
Zito, who read out a prepared statement announcing the city’s new
reimburse policy last month, said he abstained sice the possibility of
going after contractors or plumbers responsible for some of the crossed
pipe problems has not been not exhausted.
“From a legal point of view, I have issues with payment of certain
residences were the contractor or plumber is still in business and that
avenue hasn’t been explored. But I am in favour of the general idea of
payments for people who deserve it and need the help,” he said.
Last year, the city sent letters to about 160 homeowners informing
them tests indicated they have crossed pipes, a problem which sends
sewage water into the storm water system, and that they must carry the
So far this summer, tests have found another 21 homes to have
crossed pipes, with eight of these having the problem in the basement,
as opposed to outside of the home, said city manger Joe Sanalitro. He
added testing of all Kirkland’s 7,000 homes will be completed by the
end of the month.
Resident Robert Plamondon said the city should cover the legal costs of the three residents it took to court.
“This never would have come to fruition if it had been taken care as
it is now from the get-go,” he said. “This is something that never
should have happened. A lot of people went through a lot of stress.”
Plamondon said the town knew about the crossed pipe problem at his
home more than a decade before he was notified by letter last fall. He
added while he later obtained city documents that indicated tests to
check for crossed pipes at his home were carried out in the late 1990s,
he was not informed there was problem until last year.
Meanwhile, Bienvenido Calcetas, a resident taken to court this past
spring for not fixing crossed pipes, had the work done in late May but
he insists the plumbing error occurred on the city’s side not on his
property. “They crossed it in the street,” he said.