Where the city went wrong

Ombudsman Fiona Crean lays out just how the Toronto Water failed Shondra Nauth

Fiona Crean’s report, No Time To Waste, put all of the blame for the sewer backup problems at Shondra Nauth’s Wilson Heights Boulevard home squarely on the shoulders of the city, citing poor record keeping issues.

Crean dedicated an entire point in her findings to the many ways in which she found that record keeping to be substandard. They are:

• No records of who made the decision, the basis or rationale, or the factors which were considered in installing the holding tank
• No dedicated file kept by Operations and Maintenance
• No records of visits to the residence
• No report of the field investigation in October 2007
• No files kept by Technical Services
• No record kept or notes taken by Operations and Maintenance of the November 2008 meeting with [Nauth] and her councillor

Crean also highlighted an inability of different city departments to work as a cohesive unit. She gave an example where a staffer thought they were doing someone a favour in looking for contact information for someone at another city department. Crean wrote:

“The idea it would take more than 22 months for Toronto Water and Technical Services to find the correct person in another city organization defies comprehension. By a Toronto Water manager’s own admission, the delay was ‘unacceptable.’ ”

Another example showed two departments within Toronto Water not communicating clearly with each other. She wrote that operations and maintenance were responding to the sewage backups, but not informing the sewer asset planning department, even though they knew sewer asset planning was working on the permanent solution to the backups.

Sewer asset planning was also not invited to the Nov. 2008 meeting mentioned above. None of the departments at that meeting were able to explain why sewer asset planning was not there, nor did any of them follow up with sewer asset planning afterward.

In her findings, Crean concluded:

“Based on the facts obtained through my investigation, I find that Toronto Water and Technical Services failed to act fairly in dealing with [Nauth],” it read. “The city’s actions and omissions, pursuant to my governing legislation, were both unreasonable and unjust.”

About this article:

By: Shawn Star
Posted: Jun 19 2012 6:19 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto