Paul Pilon has been living in a financial nightmare since 2021.
He told the Minden Hills City Council during its Nov. 9 regular meeting that this was all due to the sewer system inspection program. And he would like answers to a few questions.
He asked how long an invoice for an inspection could be paid after receipt.
“I have four different places where I have been charged and have to pay money,” he said. “Some of them I have to pay interest on if I don’t pay on time, and this thing is all twisted. Because of that, I’m here.”
Hopefully, he said, the council can help resolve the matter before another “legal twist” is added to his nightmare.
“This is not a question-and-answer session,” Mayor Bob Carter said. “This is an opportunity for you to send a delegation to council to explain your issue and we can then hand it over to staff to hopefully resolve your issue.”
“I don’t know how we’re going to solve this, but still,” Pilon said.
He said he was sent a bill for $220 in 2021 for an inspection of a property with tax roll number 0051938. That corresponds to an address at the back of his farm.
“Can we deal with this first before we go through a whole mix of this?” Pilon said.
“As I explained to you, this is an opportunity for you to tell us what your problem is or what your situation is,” Carter said. “Have you spoken to staff about this issue?”
“No, but I spoke to you on the phone,” Pilon said.
He said he went to city hall in 2021 and paid for the inspection of his property. He showed him the bill for the other inspection and asked city staff where the property he was billed for was located.
“Oh, it’s not one of yours,” Pilon said the city employee told him. “You sold this 11 years ago.”
He said there was another bill for another property that he paid during his 2021 visit to City Hall. It was about a workshop that he had built in 1986-87.
“It’s a workshop and I eventually started making maple syrup,” he said. “I have a evaporator in there and a 400-gallon stainless steel milk tank that the juice went into before it went to the evaporator.
“The person doing the inspection had no idea what they were seeing.”
He said a young lady who completed the inspection said she was a university student and had a summer job with WSP, the environmental consultant hired in 2021 to inspect sewage systems throughout the township.
Pilon said he has been a licensed plumber since he was 23 years old.
“And I know a lot more about it than a lot of these inspectors know,” Pilon said. “I told her that and said I wasn’t happy with the answer I got. What she said to me: All of our inspectors are highly qualified.
“A university student who comes and (inspects) a sewage system is highly qualified, not an inspector from the Ministry of Health.”
There is another property. It is 62 hectares in size.
And there’s another bill.
“There has never been a septic inspection done there,” Pilon said. “There is no sewage system or anything like that (on the property). It’s all bush. And I get this bill.”
The 62-acre property containing the workshop and sugar shack is a property that once consisted of two lots, one of which belonged to a different owner. Pilon bought the other property and the shared property was given a new number for tax purposes.
“And I have a bill with all sorts of things that are wrong,” he said.
“Sir, obviously all of these details are something that we cannot decipher or address here on the council today,” Carter said. “Have you spoken to the staff about this?”
“To whom?” Pilon said.
“To our Treasury Department and so on,” Carter said.
“I have spoken-“
“—Sir, when you spoke to me, I handed it over to the staff,” Carter said. “They spoke to a lot of people on our staff. They are working to resolve all of this with you. I realize there are some issues here…due to several properties and possibly some mistakes WSP made. Believe me, the staff is working diligently to resolve these issues for you.”
“Well, no one has ever contacted me to let me know that something was being done,” Pilon said.
“Sir, that is completely false,” Carter said. “You have been to the office many times. Both the treasurer, the assistant treasurer, the clerk, a lot of people have engaged with you and told you they have been working on it.”
The mayor said there are some bills that are legally owed to the municipality and others are issues that need to be resolved.
Councilwoman Pam Sayne said she and Pilon had previously discussed the bills and she brought the issue to city staff.
“It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reason,” Sayne said. “When municipalities took over septic tank inspections, we basically got a bunch of shoeboxes of receipts trying to resolve the issue.”
She said there were properties located by their previous lot and concession numbers.
“It was very difficult to determine what was on a particular property,” Sayne said. “Obviously some of these things are still being worked out.”