Petrolia considers if it should help nine homeowners facing drainage fees

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Petrolia councilors are wondering if they can do anything for nine homeowners blindsided by a bill for drainage from Enniskillen Township.

The township is preparing to repair Tile Yard Road – a road shared by Petrolia and Enniskillen Township. But before the work begins, a new drain will have to be built.

The work, according to Joe Adams, Petrolia’s director of operations, will cost $322,000 in total. Under the Drainage Act, property owners are assessed some of the costs. Petrolia will have to shell out about $37,000. Nine Petrolia residents will share a bill of $19,000. The highest bill is $4,250 in the town.

Councilor Tim Brown sat in on the first meeting on the new drain at Enniskillen’s township office.  “The work on Tile Yard Road has been on the plans to be replaced for a very long time but the drainage has to meet code,” says Brown.

In many cases, Petrolia residents were not aware they could face the drainage charges just because they lived along a road co-owned by Enniskillen Township. “They feel almost betrayed…it doesn’t feel fair at all.”

Mayor John McCharles has heard from some of the residents affected as well and wonders what the town might be able to do to help. Adams says the municipality could try to stop Enniskillen’s plans, but that would mean a costly court battle.

“The only other options is to pick it (the residents costs) up through the general levy,” says McCharles.

But that too could cause problems. Petrolia, as Councilor Liz Welsh pointed out, is surrounded by Enniskillen and this situation will likely come up again. And that would be more tax dollars spent.

“We could be opening a huge can of worms,” says Councilor Joel Field.

Council will wait until after the next drainage hearing, which was scheduled for Tuesday, before making a decision on what to do.

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