'Good deed' turned into an invoice

·3 min read

A resident who took it upon himself to clear a ditch to help prevent flooding during a massive rainstorm will not be receiving payment from the Town of Bay Roberts.

“During our most recent storm that we had, there was a ditch that got blocked with a fair few rocks in Butlerville. There was a resident who used his Kuboto, or another digging machine, to clean out the ditch. So, he’s put in an invoice to get paid for his work,” explained Director of Public Works and Technical Services Sean Elms during the October 13 meeting of council, who then recommended council not accept the invoice, which was priced at $207.

“As I stated to our committee, I would caution any payment for any individual that does work for the Town that is not pre-authorised. We don’t know exactly what was done, or how it was done. If you do decide to make a payment, I would strongly note that this was an emergency, and that there was some flooding, and it was verified that he cleaned out the ditch,” said Elms, who further said that there was a Town loader on hand, and that the resident had assisted them in clearing out the ditch.

“So really, it’s a good deed that turned into an invoice,” said councillor Frank Deering, who then made the motion to deny payment. Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman seconded the motion.

Mayor Phillip Wood agreed with denying the payment, lest it set a future precedent.

“I would certainly concur that we cannot get into such a thing as this, because this could turn into someone’s waterline, someone’s sewer line, someone’s driveway which needs to be plowed. And we have a current issue now with a resident who dug a ditch and is seeking for the Town to pay for the ditch, without seeking prior authorization, so, this is a very difficult road to go down if we start paying,” said Wood.

Councillor Geoff Seymour said that he was on scene that morning, and he argued that as the work needed to be done immediately, and therefore ought not be put in the same category as someone who takes it upon themselves to do work in a ‘non-emergency situation.’

“The ditch was blocked, it was overflowing. In the two houses across the road, water was already going into the basements. There was a risk of flooding and suffering severe damage. And this guy took the time to clear the ditch in an emergency situation. This is a little bit different then somebody going and digging a ditch in a non-emergency situation. I have no issue with paying the guy,” said Seymour.

Councillor Dean Franey noted that debris from the area had yet to be cleaned up, and Chief Administrative Officer Nigel Black said that it was on the list of ditches that needed to be cleaned.

Council voted to deny payment, although Councillor Seymour and Franey both voted against the motion.

Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News