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Transportation and Works found in breach of Citizens’ Representative Act
An investigation by the citizens’ representative has found the Department of Transportation and Works breached a section of the Citizens’ Representative Act.
The breach is in relation to a Torbay resident’s complaint about the safety of an access road constructed next to his driveway.
Ken Manning filed a complaint with the Office of the Citizens’ Representative (OCR) in May 2016 because he said the newly constructed subdivision access road, Mayflower Drive, was built too close to his driveway.
“I was afraid people using my driveway would have an accident because when you’re pulling out of the other driveway, you look up the road and if there’s a car leaving my driveway at the same time, it interferes with the line of sight of the oncoming traffic,” Manning told The Telegram.
“Since I complained, they moved the road over so many feet, but it’s still 26 metres centre to centre, and I was told … it would be 30 metres.”
It’s an ongoing issue that’s already been through Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court.
In August 2015, the Department of Transportation and Works filed an injunction against the developer, Specialty Homes Ltd., citing it had constructed its access road without a permit and in non-compliance of the Highway Access Management Policy at the time, but the Supreme Court trial division ruled in favour of the developer.
Manning’s complaint to the Office of the Citizens’ Representative stated the road to the subdivision is adjacent to his driveway and did not meet minimum spacing requirements, and therefore was unsafe. He also complained the Transportation and Works Department did not provide satisfactory answers to his questions.
The Office of the Citizens’ Representative report states the department was of the opinion that it had no further jurisdiction to intervene with the developer because of the court decision.
“This opinion is understandable,” the report reads, “however, Mr. Manning’s concerns of ongoing public safety and the responsibility bestowed upon the department by virtue of the ability to issue permits remains one that is valid, despite the court decision, at least from an administrative fairness standpoint.”
The report notes the investigation was complex and the evidence did not provide “a clear and conclusive determination for the (department’s) decision to accept the access road in its current location without providing evidence of having met safety requirements.”
“The failure to provide Mr. Manning with a conclusive determination for their decision and the failure to demonstrate their reason, including completing a site visit with him as a complainant, is unreasonable and unjust, and therefore is a breach of the Citizens’ Representative Act,” the report reads.
Manning said it feels good to see the citizens’ representative’s finding because he has been trying to get his point across for several years with no satisfaction.
Manning said the entire process has been “very frustrating” and time consuming.
“I wouldn’t mind if they just … put the road in the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.
“The main issue here – my bone of contention at the beginning – was the access did not meet policy, and I’m after getting my name dragged through the mud and everything. And all I wanted was a safe access to use my driveway.” — Ken Manning
On Nov. 29, the citizens’ representative recommended the Department of Transportation and Works provide reasoning why the sight line specifications of the Highway Access Management Policy of 2013 were not applicable for this specific access road, and provide reasoning to support its decision that the access road meets safety requirements.
The department responded to those recommendations on Dec. 20, but the Office of the Citizens’ Representative wrote in its report that the department still did not provide evidence to support its position that the access road in its current location meets safety requirements.
The Office of the Citizens’ Representative then recommended in its Jan. 14 report that the department take a measurement of the access spacing and sight lines of the access road in its current location and provide that information to Manning.
A department spokesperson told The Telegram another site visit will be conducted to take measurements when weather permits, and the findings will then be provided to Manning.