A White Rock resident says he has lost trust in the city after fighting for more than a year to have a fire hydrant he claims was installed under “false pretence” moved from in front of his property.
After inviting council members to tour his Goggs Avenue property, Cedric Bolz brought the issue to the Jan. 25 council meeting, appealing for the hydrant to be moved because of perceived impact on parking. Three councillors – Megan Knight, Helen Fathers and Lynne Sinclair – supported moving the hydrant, but council voted for a staff report to explore the cost and other options.
The issue returned to council last week when – after a report by fire Chief Phil Lemire estimated a relocation cost of at least $6,000 – council did not take any action. Following a lengthy discussion among council and staff, Mayor Wayne Baldwin said it was a “staff decision” and should have been dealt with by staff from the beginning.
“I think this is a time, quite frankly, when council is playing in the wrong sandbox,” Baldwin said.
Bolz told Peace Arch News after the Feb. 15 meeting that he is frustrated.
“This hydrant went in under a false pretence that I would not lose any parking,” Bolz said. “I’ve given the city so many opportunities to really right a past wrong here, and they have just disappointed me on all levels.”
In his report to council, Lemire said the initial location for the hydrant was to be between Bolz’s property and his neighbour’s; Bolz requested an alternate location because the hydrant would have ended up in the middle of a flower bed in front of his home.
Bolz said he was told by Lemire and water-utility officials that the new location – on city property adjacent to his driveway – would not impact parking for him or his basement-suite tenant. However, he maintains that if he were to adhere to the required one-metre perimeter around the hydrant to allow access, he would lose a parking spot on his driveway.
The issue sparked a debate among council members, who struggled to come to an agreement or find a solution last week.
Baldwin said parking one metre away from the hydrant “shouldn’t be a problem,” while Coun. Lynne Sinclair said “people were openly rolling their eyes” during Bolz’s previous delegation when he responded that he had not yet been ticketed.
“I’m not happy with this,” Sinclair said. “I feel like there was a co-operative citizen who has ended up in a really bad situation. There ought to be something we can do.”
City manager Dan Bottrill pointed to several vehicles parked perpendicular on a satellite-view map of the block included in the staff report, noting they could be ticketed for the parking infraction, and said as long as access to the hydrant was not blocked, Bolz would not be ticketed either.
“We’re not out here trying to ticket everybody on Goggs, because quite frankly, we could,” Bottrill said. “It’s one metre.”
Bolz said there are “plenty of options” for the hydrant on his street but believes the city is “skirting it to save a paltry sum.”
He said he is looking into taking legal action, which he predicts could end up costing the city more than relocating the hydrant.
“They were never really interested in catering to my or my family’s needs,” he said.