City crews work in and around a hole on Normandy Road in Whitehorse on July 22. Matthew Jenner, the homeowner whose front lawn was dug up, was not notified by the city that any work was going to be taking place. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Property owner takes issue with city communications

Received no notice that crews would be digging up yard

A Normandy Road resident has been left wondering why he wasn’t notified that city crews would be digging up his yard the morning of July 22.

Instead, Matthew Jenner and his wife woke up to find an excavator and 10-person city crew in his front yard where a hole had been dug.

It would take a number of phone calls and inquiries before he was informed by city staff the digging was being done as part of work to find and fix a water leak in the area.

While city crews had been in the area a week earlier trying to find the leak and had looked at their property, at that time Jenner and his wife were told the leak wasn’t coming from their property and their property wouldn’t be impacted.

“We had no reason to ask questions,” Jenner said in a July 23 interview.

While Jenner’s neighbours received a notice over the past week that work to the waterline in the area would be happening, Jenner did not receive that notice nor was there any phone call or correspondence that the city would be coming into their yard to do work.

Jenner said that he understands there are times the city may have to do repairs that happen on private property and in cases of an emergency there may be no warning time, but in cases like this the city should inform property owners of the plan.

As he stated in an email to city manager Linda Rapp: “We know the city has authority to enter property at a reasonable time to examine and repair public works. With this in mind, we also know the city is required by law to provide reasonable notice to the landowner when certain repairs must occur on private property. This did not happen.”

City crews eventually located the water leak underneath the road.

The situation has Jenner wondering why they didn’t start the search there, as that would be the least intrusive to private properties.

While Jenner said the city staff he’s talked to have been open to discussing the issue and have assured him the lawn will be repaired (though there’s no information on when that might happen), there remain significant concerns.

It seems the city is missing the communications piece in their work, he said.

Jenner also took issue with what he said appeared to be a lack of effort on the city’s part to keep the public off his property.

“The city closed the street to vehicle traffic but they did not take reasonable measures to prevent the public from entering our property,” he wrote in his letter. “On several occasions we have photographs of city staff talking with the public on our property and at no time did the city discourage the entry of the public on our property. From my view, this may have been a liability concern and access should have been discussed with 108 Normandy prior to the repair.”

Jenner argued the city should have spoken with he and his wife in advance so they would have an understanding of the impacts on their property as well as their privacy. Had that happened, he said, there likely wouldn’t be liability or privacy concerns as there are.

City officials did not respond to questions about the situation by press time, though city spokesman Myles Dolphin said it was his understanding water and waste services was preparing a response for the property owner.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse

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