SD&G backtracks on open ditch outside Morrisburg business

This image from an SD&G county council agenda on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 shows the open ditch outside a used car dealership in Morrisburg, Ont. The head of county infrastructure admits the ditch was not filled in order to save money on the project but the owner wasn't informed of the change. (SD&G via Newswatch Group)

SD&G – The United Counties of SD&G is dealing with another case of an upset landowner over changes to their property on a county road.

This time it’s a car dealership in Morrisburg on County Road 2 that had the ditch in front of their property opened up as part of the Morrisburg streetscape project.

Strader Motor Sales previously had a level asphalt pad on the right-of-way with a concrete island, where used cars were put on display.

When asked by Coun. Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) during Monday’s county council meeting, SD&G Infrastructure Manager Michael Jans said the ditch, which was originally supposed to be filled, was scratched to save money on the tightly budgeted project.

Byvelds: “Did you consult with this landowner before you changed the spec or after you changed the spec (specification)?”

Jans: “I did not personally consult with this landowner.”

Byvelds: “You did change a few other places?”

Jans: “Throughout the design process there were several further to the east that were much more vocal at that time with what they were getting and constantly requesting updates and through that process I was in contact with several of them.”

Byvelds (South Dundas) says the ditch “should have been filled in from the start” and this is another example of poor communication from the county and will greatly affect the owner.

“It’s probably taken the value of his business down significantly at the same time. He should have been consulted. If he had been consulted maybe a better decision would have been made,” he said.

“We’re going back to another project where we take things away from people that they’ve had without even talking to them and it causes these issues,” Byvelds stated.

Earlier this year, the county had upset landowners in St. Andrews West when circular driveways were removed or driveway widths were altered as part of county construction. The county later backtracked on those changes.

Coun. Kirsten Gardner agreed with Byvelds.

“If you’re going to have communication at the start to let people know what is going in and then you pull the rug out from them and what they were told was going to be there is no longer there, I think it’s on us to fix that,” Gardner said.

In the end, council agreed to return the ditch to the previous paved, filled-in state, at the county’s expense of approximately $36,000.

The $4.25 million Morrisburg roundabout and streetscape project is expected to meet substantial completion by next week.