The Harrop Drain which was created from a natural drainage way, was given a complete upgrade approximately 2 years ago. At that time, meetings were arranged with Haldimand as the landowners had complaints concerning the high-handed approach by the contractors hired by Haldimand. At that time, staff apologized for the contractors and promised to do a better job of working with and informing the public in the future.
At these same meetings, Haldimand said drainage lands to the Harrop Drain would be assessed for the clean out. I informed them that they should be aware that the only two appellants in 1956 won their cases and at this time if they proceeded, they should expect many appeals as section 76(4) of the Drainage Act allows for appeals the same as an original construction does. I also asked for any assessment notices to show that the resident has the right to appeal and to show how to access them.
Well, notices arrived just before Christmas with no appeals information and residents have been given until January 22nd, 2018 to arrange payment or their assessment will be added to their tax bill. When I contacted Haldimand I found their offices closed until January 2nd.
On January 2nd, I spoke with Kris Franklin, Drainage Superintendent plus several times after that, where we found ourselves in total disagreement. According to Kris, Haldimand had upgraded the Drain without an “Engineers Report” as should have been required by the Drainage Act and therefore they did not need to allow appeals, including my farm which was exempted by the 1956 court decision. Kris also said the City of Nanticoke hired an Engineer to do a report in 1996 and as no one had appealed the report, we had given up our rights and the only recourse now would be to hire a lawyer to appeal to a “Drainage Referee” which I am in the process of doing.
The fact is, in 1996, the City of Nanticoke sent letters of intent to assess the residents and they reacted by placing many so calls for appeals that the City of Nanticoke said they were dropping the assessment. Therefore no appeals were done. However Mr. Franklin says that because the landowners names appear on that 1996 engineers report that we were given a chance to appeal but didn’t, so therefore we have lost our right to appeal now.
It’s unfortunate, that as a resident, I have to fight my own municipality for my rights and those of my neighbors. It’s as if Haldimand County staff are our enemies not our protectors and if this grand scheme to block the rights of the residents is being done with Council’s approval then shame on you.
This drain when developed was imposed on us, not by a vote of the majority of land owners but to serve an artificial output from Hagersville’s new sewage plant and storm drain system. The farms this drain crosses, should have been compensated yearly for putting up with constant flow of sewage water. The Drainage Act does its best to allow progress while protecting people’s rights at the same time. Abusing the Act does not allow justice to happen – time for Haldimand to take a step back and do what is right.