District’s demand for storm-drain connection would cost $300K and bankrupt us, Saanich homeowners say

District's demand for storm-drain connection would cost $300K and bankrupt us, Saanich homeowners say
Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC
Michelle Gowing, her husband Simon Gowing and their son. The Gowings worry they will go bankrupt because of the district's demands. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

A pair of Saanich homeowners say the district’s requirement that all new homes connect to the municipal storm drain at the owner’s expense is unreasonable and the year-long queue to apply to district council for an exception is threatening to ruin them financially.

Last summer, Michelle Gowing and her husband bought their dream house in Saanich, just blocks from where she grew up.

When they bought the home they knew they would have to do some renovations, but after discovering the foundation was cracked, they came to the conclusion their only option was to knock the old home down and build a new one.

But the district requires new houses to connect to the municipal storm drain, and while the couple’s home is in an urban part of town, all the homes on their street were built before the storm drain connection requirement — meaning the Gowings would have to foot the bill to build infrastructure down the street to their property which could cost as much as $300,000.

Saanich homeowners

Michelle Gowing, her husband Simon Gowing and their son at their Saanich property, where they have torn down the old house and are waiting for approval from the district to build a new one. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

It’s effectively bankrupting us,” said Michelle Gowing. “After buying a house, I don’t know anyone with those kinds of funds.”

Gowing argues the district’s bylaws allow for alternative storm drainage solutions, and in their application for a building permit, they proposed to build a rock pit drainage system.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says while rock pits are used on some properties in Saanich, it’s not an acceptable solution given the home’s location.

“Where they are inside the urban containment boundary, and this particular house is, there is an interest from an engineering perspective to connect new homes to a storm drain,” he said.


This story was initially published by Kieran Oudshoorn on CBC News


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