Man told to dig into his own pocket to fix sewage pipe on town property

A Yarmouth, N.S., man is urging his town to change one of its bylaws after he learned he will have to pay about $10,000 to repair a broken sewer pipe that isn't even on his property.

Rodney Crowe is asking people to sign an online petition he plans to present to Yarmouth town council next month. He is looking at a major repair job after discovering a flood in his basement a few weeks ago.

"It was all due to a sewage pipe that collapsed or became separated underneath the street in front of my house," he said.

"The town bylaw states that I'm responsible for the pipe where it connects to the main sewer line, even though that's right under the road. In fact, it connects on the opposite side of the street."

Crowe feels the bylaw isn't fair. He said if the break in the pipe is off his property, it shouldn't be his problem.

"I called my insurance and they've told me they will fix the damage caused by the flood but the actual cause of the flood is on me."

Can't afford repairs

He said plumbers managed to clear the pipe for now, but there's no guarantee how long it will hold up. Replacing it will cost approximately $10,000.

"I have to pay for a contractor to lay the pipe," said Crowe. "I have to pay for a paving company to pave the street in the end and also possibly pay for a flagging company to come in and stand there with flags the whole time while they do this."

Crowe, who works as an auto mechanic at a Yarmouth County car dealership, said he can't afford to make the repairs.

"I'm going to have to remortgage my house or take out another loan or something," said Crowe. "I'm stuck in between a rock and a hard place."

Crowe said he will monitor the petition for about a month and then present it at an upcoming council meeting.

Difficult to change bylaw

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood can relate to Crowe's situation. She had to pay $10,000 to repair a damaged sewer pipe that ran to her house last year. But she said it would be hard to make changes to the existing bylaw.

"The issue before council is to have some of the costs borne by the town but that would come out of the tax base," said Mood.

"The entire town and taxpayers would be paying for the few people who have lost that service or something has gone wrong with their pipe."

Mood said preliminary discussions have already taken place around the issue of who is responsible for sewage pipe repairs.

In the meantime, Crowe said he will continue encouraging people to sign his petition.

"I'm just trying to do the best that I can to make life a little bit easier, hopefully for me, but if not then for somebody else down the road."