Mullen letter

Durham Region Residents – important:

Regarding the letter, Durham Region residents have received from a company called Service Line Warranties of Canada

According to the Durham Region Manager, Works, Environmental Services and Design, Durham Region was “the only” region in Ontario in which residents were not responsible for sewer line repairs to buried lines on our properties, UNTIL A RECENT CHANGE WAS MADE. Apparently, this financial responsibility has been recently given to us, the residents, and this was approved by Regional Council. Very little has been said in the media about this and no notification has been sent out by the Region to residents.

Before you sign up with this company, it might be worth checking with your home insurance provider to see if you have this coverage or can obtain it at a lesser cost. If you are interested, below is the full text of an email I have sent to Durham Region Council members for Whitby, the Chair, and the Whitby Mayor. Hello elected officials, Today I, and I believe all Durham Region residents, received a mailing with Durham Region’s logo on both the envelope and enclosure, from a company called Service Line Warranties of Canada, offering sewer and water line repair plans. The mailing states that the “Region of Durham has approved Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) an independent company, to help protect eligible homeowners against high out-of-pocket expenses and the hassles of finding the right plumber”. The document states “

Like many homeowners, you may not be aware that you are responsible for repairs to exterior lines buried on your property.” I initially thought it was a scam, and one of my neighbours mentioned it to me as well – it seemed like a scam because surely the Region wouldn’t allow the Region logo to go out to residents on a flyer like this, for repair insurance we don’t have any reason to believe we need! The mailing also says “water service and sewer/septic lines can be impacted by corrosion, freezing temperatures, and aging – causing an unexpected costly repair.” Well, we as residents don’t replace or maintain sewer or water lines buried in the ground, so we have no control over keeping them in good shape/replacing them in a timely manner in order to avoid costly repairs. We have to rely on the Region for that, and I now find that worrisome.

Like most Durham Region residents, I believed the Region has always been responsible for sewer repairs. And I think it has, until very recently, when perhaps a bylaw has been passed to make this change. [A series of questions asked by Sally Mullen in her original letter:]

  • QUESTION 1: When did this change? When did homeowners become responsible for sewer repairs for outside lines buried underground?
  • QUESTION 2: How did this happen? By what means has this “decision” been made?
  • QUESTION 3: What is the situation with water lines underground in our front yards? Beyond the potential major financial implications for residents in repairing sewer lines, there are the practical ones – finding a competent contractor, etc. Can you imagine an eighty-year-old resident facing that? And time would be of the essence! For a change of this magnitude, which affects all Durham Region residents and homeowners, I would expect communication from the Region in advance of any such decision, an opportunity for input, and definitely communication directly from the Region to residents about the change – NOT an advertising flyer from a 3rd party service line warranty company with Durham Region’s logo plastered all over it.
  • QUESTION 4: Why is Durham Region’s logo on the envelope, the letterhead? This company’s headquarters is in Pennsylvania!
  • QUESTION 5: Where is the communication from the Region to residents, directly, about this huge change? I called the Region – Works Dept. – and the woman who answered the phone indicated multiple calls had been received by the Region today, about this mailing. She mentioned a recent bylaw change. She then transferred me to Mike Hubble, Manager, Environmental Services Design. Mr. Hubble indicated this change in sewer repair responsibility is recent, and when I asked how this issue was communicated to residents, he indicated it’s “on the Durham Region website” – I still can’t find it after much searching, but are residents to spend our free time continually or periodically searching the Region website for hours for any changes that will affect us, made by any department of the Region of Durham? Is that reasonable? That is not a question I am requesting an answer for because there is no possible answer other than a resounding NO. He indicated Durham Region is the only region in Ontario which provides this repair service (up to now) for residents.
  • QUESTION 6: Is this true, a fact? Must I call all regions to find out for myself? Frankly, that’s an indication of my level of trust in the Region now – zilch – if this is how things are being done. If this financial responsibility is being transferred to residents, we would expect a reduction in our taxes payable. I sincerely doubt that will occur.
  • QUESTION 7: What impact, if any, will this have on property taxes?
  • QUESTION 8: If no impact, why not? Taking this factor out of the budget must impact taxes. Mr. Hubble indicated that the 3rd party company, SLWC, is one that Durham Region entered into negotiations with, and was offered “royalties” from, which the Region turned down and opted instead for “lower rates for our residents”. That smacks of corruption and deception. He also indicated the Durham Region Council approved this change.
  • QUESTION 9: Did the Council approve it – the decision, the plan, the implementation, the lack of communication, etc.?
  • QUESTION 10: If so, how, and why did Council members feel this is okay? If not, then why has it happened like this? There is just too much wrong with this whole situation. Consultation, communication before, during, and after the “decision”, having an independent company be the ones to let residents in on this huge new financial burden they must now shoulder, etc. I used an analogy with Mr. Hubble, to see if he could understand the impact of this mailing that I received today. Imagine receiving a flyer for medical insurance, and being told that you might not be aware but it’s your responsibility to pay for your health care, so it’s wise to sign up for this coverage. Wouldn’t that surprise you? If such a huge change was made without a word to the population affected, would you not be confused, frustrated, worried and angry? We live in a democracy – we don’t do this kind of stuff (and “stuff” is not the word for it). Issues that affect a population are communicated, discussed, facts are presented, input is given, etc. – none of this happened. I have spent hours this evening on the Durham Region website, trying to figure out how this change came about, where the communication is, etc. Was it perhaps amendment 25-2002 to bylaw 90-2003? I found the text of both bylaws and tried to see the original text of bylaw 90-2003, to understand the changes made by the amending bylaw 25-2002, but when I clicked on the “original text” option, it only shows the updated “consolidated” version.
  • QUESTION 11: Why isn’t it showing what it purports to show – the original text?
  • QUESTION 12: I am requesting the original text of bylaw 90-2003, and I would like to see the exact written changes, via bylaw or other means, that have implemented this change.

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