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(Posted 7:30 a.m., July 29)
Fallingbrook South sewer problem a potential financial sinkhole for city

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

A shoddy section of sewer pipe in Fallingbrook South is causing no end of headaches for local homeowners and a potential financial burden for city taxpayers.

The section of sewer pipe in question runs under Sunland Drive near Orchardview Avenue. When it was installed in the early 80s it was surrounded by heavy fill which, overtime, has eroded causing homes to sink creating uneven floors and cracks in the foundation walls.

The problem is so bad, the city agreed to purchase six townhouses on Sunland Drive and two homes on Orchardview in 2009 after an engineering report confirmed the damage was caused by the sewer pipe which was installed by the former township of Cumberland prior to amalgamation. Now it appears the problem has become more widespread.

At least one neighbouring homeowner is suing the city for compensation and another is considering taking legal action after a private engineer confirmed the shoddy sewer is causing their home to sink as well.

The city has agreed to cover the cost of repairs, but only after the homeowners have proved the damage to their homes is the direct result of the sewer, obtained quotations to repair the damage and arrange to have the work performed, all at their own cost.

Antoinette Joly lives in a townhome across the street from the homes that were purchased by the city. She has a large crack in her basement which appeared in 2002 and she has issues with uneven floor tiles and a door that closes on its own because the hone has tilted slightly.

She contacted an engineering firm to identify the cause of the problem and possible mediation with a neighbour. The firm confirmed the issues are the direct result of the nearby sewer, but unless the source of the problem is fixed the homes will continue to shift once they're repaired. The neighbour is now suing the city.

Joly is not sure what to do, she only knows she has to do something. Under normal circumstances her home would be worth about $290,000, if she could sell it. Because of disclosure laws she has a legal obligation to inform any potential buyer about the problem with the sewer, making her home virtually unsellable.

But the bigger question that needs to be asked is why hasn't the city fixed the pipe when it knows the problems continue to persist and are affecting more homes? So far the city has yet to provide an answer.

In the meantime, Joly and her neighbous are on the hook for expensive engineering bills and hoping the city will fix the problem once and for all and end their nightmare.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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