From The Gazette

Baie d’Urfé

Ditch-digging decision roils Baie-d’Urfé resident

  • Don O'Sullivan filled in the ditch in his front yard and the town forced him to reopen it.
    Don O'Sullivan filled in the ditch in his front yard and the town forced him to reopen it.
    Photo credit: Dave Sidaway, The Gazette

Baie-d’Urfé won a legal challenge this year when a Quebec Superior Court ruling upheld its policy to maintain a ditch drainage system to collect rainwater on parcels of land it owns in the front setbacks between private properties and the street.

Resident Don O’Sullivan, who installed a pipe and then filled the ditch in front of his home on Devon St. in July 2007, said while he complied with a court order to restore the ditch to its original condition in August, he still doesn’t think the town’s ditch policy is clear or fair.

O’Sullivan had sought an injunction after the town notified him in 2008 it would unilaterally restore the ditch to its previous condition.

“After I filled it in (and piped it), it drained perfectly, but I was then told I was not allowed to do that,” O’Sullivan said, adding he opted to battle in court since other properties in the town have had ditches filled in at one point, adding some were even done after he did his.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “I even took photos of ditches filled in. There are so many in the town.”

Town officials said the ruling backs a policy to maintain ditches to drain rainwater, mainly into nearby Lake St. Louis.

“Citizens are not allowed to backfill ditches. It would interfere with the drainage system in the town,” said town clerk Nathalie Hadida.

“This ruling clearly states the town can control ditches,” she added.

Hadida said the town doesn’t rely on storm sewers to collect rain water, so the ditches are required to prevent stagnant water from forming in one area.

Of the 1,400 homes in the town, about 1,000 have a ditch between the street and the property, according to court documents.

In his conclusion, the judge said it is clear that O’Sullivan, who never sought the town’s permission or ever requested it to do any maintenance, did not have the right to fill in the ditch in front of his home.

“The evidence also shows that the town has legitimate reasons to maintain the integrity of its ditch system,” stated Justice Thomas M. Davis.

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