Building department rapped for ‘failure to communicate’
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
Staff South Glengarry Mayor Frank Prevost continued his battle against shortcomings in the municipality’s building department during a special meeting of council November 29.
Outgoing mayor Ian McLeod set the stage for discussion by relating that the chief building official, Kevin Lalonde, had issued an order to comply to an unidentified resident last year.
That order had a compliance date of Dec. 15, 2017, and as of Nov. 29, there had been no action taken on the order.
“Under the law, it is now the obligation of the building official to set a court date under Part 3 of the
explained Mr. McLeod, who pointed out that after Dec. 15, 2018 the municipality cannot lay any charges against the individual. Mr. Prevost asked if the
required that the resident be charged and taken to court. He also wondered “if we could ask the court to give this individual more time” to comply with the order, or have the charges dropped altogether.
He added that the property owner has been “doing his due diligence” to get the matter resolved, a claim later contested by Mr. Lalonde, and that the order regarded a structure erected prior to the present owner’s purchase of the property.
Mr. Lalonde replied that the provisions of the and the municipality’s “duty of care,” required that the individual be charged.
“As for asking the court (for an extension or to drop the charges), once the charges are laid, it would be the person’s responsibility to appeal to the court for more time. It wouldn’t be ours,” said Mr. Lalonde.
“How they deal with that charge would be up to them.”
As for Mr. Prevost’s claim that the resident was “trying to do the best that they can” to comply, Mr. Lalonde saw things a little differently. “We have contacted the person. In a year, I’ve only spoken to or been in email contact with them twice,” said Mr. Lalonde. “And each time I advised them that they needed to get this resolved.”
Mr. Prevost then questioned if “anybody in the general public” was aware that an extension could be sought. Mr. Lalonde replied that “it’s written on the order to comply.” reach out to us, we don’t constantly remind them on a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly basis that the compliance date hasn’t been met.”
Dissatisfied with Mr. Lalonde’s reply, Mr. Prevost reiterated, “We’re not communicating” with township residents.
“We’re just sending out the order to comply and it’s up to that person to make sure that they understand the order, from top to question’s not asked, it’s very difficult to answer.”
After stating that he “wasn’t prepared to answer all of the questions” related to the matter, Mr. Lalonde said he’d been lenient with the resident in question.
“There were two charges that could have been laid,” he said. “The person could have been charged for constructing with no permit, albeit they didn’t do the construction...We haven’t laid that charge because I appreciate that they didn’t do the construction. But it’s their responsibility to comply with the failing to comply order. That’s the offence that they committed.”
Mr. Prevost then sought clarification.
“In the does it say, ‘must,’ ‘shall,’ ‘if you want to,’ ‘you don’t have to,’? What does it say?” he asked.
“It says that the chief building official shall enforce the
replied Mr. Lalonde. “‘Shall’ doesn’t mean you must,” said Mr. Prevost, eliciting an exasperated response from township CAO Bryan Brown.
“It means under the law, ‘shall,’” stated an obviously irritated Mr. Brown, who also took offence to Mr. Prevost’s repeated claims that the township’s building department is “not communicating with our people,” when it comes to dealing with lated issues.
“With all due respect, that’s not what’s happening,” he fumed.
Mr. McLeod backed the CAO’s claim, pointing out that lack of communication doesn’t appear to be an issue. “My understanding is that there have been very, very few situations where we don’t have a back-and-forth of information, and that we get into this situation,” he said. Deputy-mayor Lyle Warden concluded the discussion on a more civil note with a procedural question for Mr. Lalonde. “In a situation where an order was issued, and it lapsed, for whatever reason, if it was a clerical error or somebody turned the other way, could you not just reissue another order to comply and restart the process?” he asked.
“No, because that’s proven in court to be an abuse of process,” answered Mr. Lalonde. Building Code Act- re-