Takhini North – the story behind the “story”
Takhini North residents feel the need to set the record straight given the recent comments made by the mayor and city manager to the media in last Friday’s Yukon News.
Over the last year, the residents have been working to understand what the heck is going on in our community regarding our municipal water and sewer system and services.
We’ve had numerous meetings with council and staff in order to make some sense of the $24,500 water and sewer bill that the city presented to each of us.
Contrary to the city’s recent statements, the facts appear to reveal that this issue is not about burdening the ‘common taxpayer’ with our problem.
Rather, it is about a serious lack of accountability, integrity and responsibility on the part of our municipal government in its role to protect its citizens against this type of situation, which the Municipal Act is intended to prevent.
We bought our homes in Takhini North and diligently pay our taxes, utility bills and completed renovations on our homes.
What we didn’t know at the time is that under each of our properties lie a severely decrepit water and sewer system and that this system has been known (by the city and the developers) to be in poor condition and non-compliant with municipal bylaws for decades.
And guess what?
Now apparently we have to do something about it because government has not.
We have been asked to pay tens of thousands of dollars for something we thought we already had paid for simply because the city failed to ensure the appropriate party (the developer) did something about it at the proper time.
And, as in other neighbourhoods, we paid fair market price for the new home (utilities included).
Our research shows that during the redevelopment of Valleyview, Takhini East and West, the city acted to protect the interests of the city and future property owners by ensuring that the developer in those neighbourhoods paid the costs to correct the non-compliant servicing.
This guaranteed that every purchaser bought a lot and home with new, public, and up-to-code utilities.
But the same requirement was not applied in Takhini North.
All in all, it appears that somehow, despite the city’s detailed history and knowledge of the decrepit state of the water and sewer system, it never applied its regulatory regime to the developer in this case as it had to the other Takhini redevelopments.
Something was seriously overlooked.
We brought this to the attention of the council and staff expecting that there is a good explanation for all of this.
But the explanation we received boils down to the city’s insistence that you and your neighbors must bear the burden of the costs to correct the system.
And by what providence, we ask?
Oh, they reply, because of the “easement” registered on your titles.
We decided that it is time to hire a lawyer to get a legal review.
The conclusion of the review is that the “easement agreement” is not actually a legal easement, nor could it bind us in any way to bear the burden as the city suggests.
To make things worse, our research reveals that the advice that the city received regarding the use of such an easement agreement appears to have come from the city’s lawyers, who partially comprise the developer’s consortium.
To complicate things even more, the city tells us that we have a private system and we have to take care of it; fend for ourselves should it breakdown.
We then asked the city, “But then why do we pay utilities if it is private?” We have a public utility system that happens to run under our homes due to the technology available at the time it was installed.
We can only conclude that the city did not protect its own interests nor the interests of the homeowners in Takhini North, unlike it did for three other similar neighbourhoods.
We have tried hard to work directly with council and staff, and are disappointed that it has come to this as we expect more from our local government.
While the Municipal Act collects dust and the developers spent their profits, we debate digging outhouse holes.
Takhini North Community Association Working Group, Whitehorse
See more letters page 10.