Business owners start petition against town

Melissa Jenkins
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Carbonear road issues, plumbing problems cause for complaints

Michael Williams and Wade Sharpe are sick of hearing, "blub, blub, blub" coming from the bathroom of their Carbonear business.

The owners of Busy Hands Arts and Crafts on Water Street acquired the building in August 2014. During renovations, they had the plumbing hooked up. It had been left unhooked for years while the property wasn't in use as a business.

Williams explains that to understand how the noise begins, it's necessary to watch the toilet.

He turns on the faucet, and the noise begins. Sounds emanate from the bowl and water begins to drain slowly. It doesn't stop for over an hour.

"If someone has to use the washroom, we have to send them across the street to the civic centre," Williams said, noting the embarrassment they feel sending customers out the door.

It was then the couple realized there were issues with the plumbing. Sharpe believes the sewer pipe, which runs directly behind the property into the ocean, was crushed during previous work by town council workers driving heavy equipment over it for years.

Sharpe claims it was used for dumping debris and snow for many years.

Carbonear director of public works Brian O'Grady told The Compass that in his seven years on the job, town vehicles have not been used on the property.

There is no indication whether anything was dumped prior.

There are, however, several oxidized pipes and eroded blocks of concrete behind the building and along the beach. It is unknown where these came from.

Williams and Sharpe agree their sewer pipe is not part of the town's sewer system. The town's access is across the street, in front of the train station museum.

"I can't believe the town didn't require (the plumbing) to be hooked up to the town's sewer system years ago," Sharpe said.

The town said all work to fix plumbing issues on a person's or business' property must be looked after by the property's owner, which would include running their own plumbing to the curb from the back of the building.

Don't get wet

The sewer line is one of three problems the couple believes are serious issues that need to be addressed. Another is water pooling in front of the property.

The business' main entrance is at the south of the building. There are ruts and potholes in the pavement in front of their driveway, which leads to a small, gravel parking lot.

Water gathers in these spaces, and traffic drives through them, creating a wave of water.

When it is raining hard and vehicles are travelling faster than the speed limit, the water reaches past the entrance and can potentially soak customers.

"The water collects at our door, from the run off from the higher area on Water Street, and on a rainy day a patron would have to judge how fast they have to run to avoid being soaked by passing vehicles," Williams explained.

Also, when vehicles drive through the puddles, the gravel on the parking lot gets pushed back, leaving holes at the entrance. It is a hinderance to those trying to park on the property.

Work was completed on Water Street on the north side of their shop several weeks ago to help with the pooling issue. Town administrator Cynthia Davis said the work completed eliminated that issue.

"Outside staff corrected the water pooling issue a few weeks ago," she told The Compass. "The sea had caused a blockage in the culvert where the storm water goes out to the harbour. There may be some spray on the building when the road is wet since the building is so close to the street, but there is nothing that can be done for that."

O'Grady confirmed the work was completed, and did what it was supposed to do.

"The town dug up a large storm culvert that is to the north of the building running from the Water Street curb to the ocean. This was cleaned and re-installed. Since that time the water has been running well and only a few puddles of water are in front of the building. This is no different than in many locations where the pavement is not perfectly even."

But Sharpe said the problem was not eliminated because the south side of the building has a lower elevation.

"The water still pools there because it can't run uphill," he said.

"This past fall, some of the pavement was replaced but the area where the most water collects was not included and is mere feet from our doorway," said Williams.

Sidewalk needs repair

The third issue is the sidewalk in front of the property. Williams and Sharpe said they spoke with town management, and a plan is in place to replace it with a product other than concrete, but that won't happen until at least the spring.

Davis confirmed that something with more of a heritage feel will replace the standard sidewalk later this year.

"I told him that we may remove the old broken sidewalk and just place gravel there until next year, but we would not be replacing it at this time. If weather permits we may still get it removed before winter sets in," O'Grady said.

Sharpe and Williams are more concerned about the safety of the sidewalk than the esthetic curb appeal.

"It's just a matter of time before someone gets hurt on that sidewalk," Williams said. "Then, it's too late. And it'll be the town's responsibility."

Petition for solution

Williams and Sharpe created an online petition on called "Clean up your act Town of Carbonear" calling on the town to fix the issues. A hard copy can be found in the store.

The business owners felt they had no other choice because they were concerned for the safety of their patrons. So far, the petition has garnered a few hundred signatures.

O'Grady said the water pooling issue had already been in progress before the petition began.

Sharpe is adamant that a simple solution will fix all the issues in one shot. He suggests have the building hooked to the main water line. In doing so, the sidewalk would have to be torn up. The old sewer pipe would no longer be an issue, since it wouldn't be used anymore. And the pavement would have to get fixed after getting dug up.

Organizations: The Compass

Geographic location: Water Street, Carbonear

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Recent comments

  • Popsicle Pete
    January 18, 2015 - 10:06

    I don't get it. I have owned many properties both residential and commercial and have always made it a rule to ensure a proper property inspection is completed by a certified company before the purchase is concluded to ensure I don't get any surprises . Had the owns had the forethought (and advice from their lawyer) to do this they would not be in this predicament. Why should the good taxpaying folks of the community foot the bill for their ineptness?

  • Anon.
    January 17, 2015 - 15:59

    I agree with the other posters who said you should have done your research. We steered away from this building when we were looking for our business, we knew a bit about it and heard more. It was known there was much work to be done with it. Needless to say, we didn't bite. We ended up leasing somewhere else there and did not buy this building. You should have looked into this more instead of having a mountain of complaints. Things are not so easy, there are rules and regulations to everything with regards to the Town taking action. And by 'Assuming' about the sewer? You know what they say about 'Assuming', right? :) You never assume anything especially when it comes to making a purchase like that. From one business to another - I do wish you the best of luck with all of this but I can't say if you're 'in the right' or not.

  • Michael
    January 09, 2015 - 22:58

    We have some movement from Town Council, we now have four red tablets added to our toilet, however they refuse to go down, apparently it is crushed but that will need to be determined by another petition, another video posted to FaceBook? a visit to Town Council? no we continue to bring light to how crazy it is for a new business to get some action! I cannot imagine what homeowners have to do through to get some needed repairs done to what Council should be doing! There is more to this article than sewer issues that the Town created, it is the inability of Managers to take control of things that are necessary for business, and they have an action plan to bring new business to Water Street? please, they work as efficiently as laptop computer without a battery!

  • Debra Bradbury
    January 09, 2015 - 17:46

    To the long standing tax payer. I would like to inform you our land was not given to us so it wasn't cheap we did buy with the services of a lawyer. Where do you get we are getting a free ride.? We pay taxes on that property every year, the water is ours and according to the Carbonear rules and regs on page 17 we should've had our permit to build. We have worked all of our lives, we believe we are an asset to this town. We are not here for a free ride like others in this town get your story straight.

    • Michael
      January 14, 2015 - 22:25

      Debra we stand behind your fight, I really don't understand why Town Council are so against movement ahead! I feel that the Town of Carbonear is just too small in its brain power that it cannot see that there is more besides the Civic Centre that Carbonear offers to people, at least to our Suppliers and customers they are thankful there is a place like we have that offer handmade homemade gifts!

  • Debra bradbury
    January 09, 2015 - 12:36

    If I remember right we paid for some councillors and Davis to go to Toronto to drum up new businesses for our town so why isn't the town not fixing this problem for business I heard that the problem was heavy equipment and Brian o'grady said that there was no equipment on this land or nothing heavy on the land will I can see that land and I have been here sent 2009 and i have see with my own see that heavy equipment has been park there if o'grady saids that the equipment was not on that land then he should step down

    • Michael
      January 09, 2015 - 15:48

      There were many untruths told to the Compass Reporter from Town Managers. Its too bad that some people get stuck in the sewer rut without knowing all the facts. Thank you Debra, many citizens have attested to seeing the same thing, although Mr O'Grady says that in the 7 years he has been manager of public works, there have not been heavy equipment on our property. We wait results from the red dye tablets the town have used down our toilet, its too bad they didn't just come to an easy remedy four months ago and just labeled a spade a spade, they have done the damage and they need to repair it instead of telling untruths to a reporter. Ms Davis wrote us a letter stating that the water build up have been addressed and fixed, however that same day I videoed the Manager of Public Works driving past and splashing some 10 feet toward the back of the building, its pretty hard to deny videos! The sidewalk which is a disgrace as can be clearly seen, Ms Davis says that its not that bad and not a danger, I beg to pardon that as can be seen in photos taken earlier this fall. Clearly they have tried to boldly get out of the mess they could have easily avoided if they had addressed the issue when we first presented them four months ago. Its definitely a time for big time change!

  • History
    January 09, 2015 - 10:42

    Is there any truth to the fact that you bought a building knowing the sewer was not working? Was there a proper inspection done before the purchase? Our town does a good job with sidewalks and paving and will hopefully have it repaired in the spring. But the sewer! Patrons of the sheet metal business knew for years it was not functioning properly?

    • Jean
      January 09, 2015 - 11:33

      You GOT to be kidding me. You must not drive...or leave your house for that matter. The council DOES NOT do a good job with the sidewalks and paving. Glad I don't pay taxes to the town to pay idiots who do nothing.

    • Michael
      January 16, 2015 - 16:02

      History, I do not know who would buy property on Water Street and not assume that the sewer is connected to a proper sewer line that is in the historic downtown section! As for the Town doing a good job with the roads, you have got to be kidding! LOL what is a pothole? duh! You must not drive and must live in a dream state, as for the previous owners knowing the sewer was not functioning, by what are you drawing this information from? You sound as if you know more about our building than we do! you know nothing!

  • Charles Murphy
    January 09, 2015 - 10:25

    I'm putting a book together concerning the community I live into. There to many double standard. One day your apart of the community, next day your not. Question , which is it?

    • Michael
      January 14, 2015 - 22:16

      what exactly do you mean, a part of the community? As a business does one need to be attached to a community in order to do business and draw tax dollars into the town?

  • Wrong info
    January 08, 2015 - 18:22

    Obviously you're not educated regarding the "couple on the hill".. Those people didn't want anything from the town for free, they only wanted a PERMIT to build their house. However the town wouldn't grant them this until they paved the road, etc. Which happens to be the same road our former mayor Sam Slade lives on. It's funny that the road wasn't deemed unfit befote this couple attempted to build a house here. It appears as though it was Sammy Claus who was looking for something for free, NOT this couple. What a lovely mayor we had

    • Michael
      January 09, 2015 - 13:47

      There are a lot of people who do not have the proper information..I as well feel that these off the cuff responses are coming from those who are associated with the present Town Council, its leaning towards outright nasty comments instead of offering beneficial information to the public. We continue to fight for those who use the sidewalk, the fight continues to improve the Town so that visitors can appreciate its true beauty!

    • Wayne Slade
      January 17, 2015 - 15:56

      To wrong info, first of all sam slade lives on the top of bunkers hill not the extension road above bunkers hill. second of all he's land has been in the slade family for centurys. Finally I would like to say he had to pay through the nose to get running water and sewer up there so nothing up there was free for him.just for the record he was one of the best dam mayors this town ever had and I have no idea why the compass publishes comments from someone whos too big of a coward to put your name to your comments.

  • local resident
    January 08, 2015 - 10:29

    Its wonderful to see a new business open up on Water Street, especially one that promotes and sells local crafts and gifts. This little shop can really be beneficial to our town, and especially attractive to tourists who visit the "historical downtown district" of Carbonear and have only a handful of choices on where to shop and eat. I would hope the council supports this new business and repairs the broken sidewalk which is indeed a hazard and a horrible eyesore in this area. The shop owners and town council need to work together in a reasonable manner to figure out the sewage problems, even if it happens to be at the storeowner's cost. Any new development or business that promotes tourism and culture, offers a place to shop, or have lunch in the dilapidated downtown area should be supported by our council, and hopefully by our town citizens.

    • Michael
      January 08, 2015 - 11:27

      Thank you Local Resident for your comments, its good to hear both negative and positive comments as we try to get some major issues addressed. It is good to read that someone is picking up on another issue that we face as New Business owners and not just the sewer problem, the sidewalk was the first problem that we have ventured with the Town Council management to have repaired. The article states that they are willing to remove the old sidewalk, however in a letter from the Town Manager, there is no significant broken concrete that would facilitate Council removing it. Obviously they cannot come to a consensus as to what to do, perhaps they need to sit down and come up with a game plan!

  • Observer
    January 07, 2015 - 23:21

    If raw sewage is presently going from your toilet into our harbor and beach the occupancy permit for that building should never have been issued and it should now be revoked, and the Department of Health called in to issue fines where appropriate, both to the Town, perhaps, and the occupants. Buildings along Water St. that currently still empty raw sewage straight into the harbor, shameful as it is, could be allowed to continue, maybe, under some "grandfather clause," perhaps, with a commitment that in 12 months or so, they will connect to a Town sewer pipe, if it is available. Any Water St. building that closes up, and reopens, like the building here in question, should be made to connect to the Town sewer system and NOT at the tax payers expense before an occupancy permit is issued.

    • Michael
      January 09, 2015 - 16:02

      Obviously you are not aware that Town Sewer Systems are not filtration systems! I find your comment both amusing and disturbing, that in 2015 people still do not know the facts!

  • Common sense
    January 07, 2015 - 17:51

    So "when it's raining hard and vehicles are travelling FASTER than the speed limit", the water can potentially soak customers? I'm pretty sure town is not responsible to fix roads that are causing problems only when people are speeding. So if you say that speeding vehicles are causing your problem, then it looks you maybe you should be contacting the RCMP, and you might as well call a plumber while you're near a phone.

    • Michael
      January 14, 2015 - 22:38

      We are ahead of you on that one, the RCMP have been contacted and so far they have nabbed two who have been speeding, and warned more, its a speed issue that the Town once again have fallen down on, speed bumps need to be in place! If I had to contact the RCMP with every car that sped by, we would be on the phone 24/7...and yes a plumber have been on our premises, its too bad I cannot pass along that bill to you! LOL your fallacious comments are just too funny! You seem to know a lot about Water Street, pop in some time when its raining and I will show you what we are talking about, unless you are one of several who will not step foot into our establishment because we are not playing coy with this Town Council!

  • Thank You
    January 07, 2015 - 12:51

    Come buy an old building, with no sewer connection for years and then complain it does not work. The Town has more important issues than the few you noted. The Town of Carbonear is a great place, with competent councillors and staff and have served us well. Your fault you did not check the connection before purchasing. Fix it yourself.

    • Michael
      January 07, 2015 - 13:15

      The old building that you are referring to is now much better looking esthetically than before our purchase. One would assume that being in a Town Municipality that water and sewer would be the last to be NOT assumed already done? Where is Town Pride? Its due to the Town's Management in previous years that Water Street have not progressed beyond where it is. Thankfully we do have a customer base that is not dependent upon tax dollars, unlike the Town where our business is located and have collected business tax and shall continue to do in the future. As a long standing member of Carbonear have told us, its time that Carbonear take pride and do things to improve its historical Water Street. As for competent staff, the Town Manager have gone on record and said that the previous owner had not had any sewer problems...the problem is the dumping of road debris over many years, again that is something that many town people can attest to. Thank you for your comments!

  • Long Standing Tax Payer
    January 07, 2015 - 10:36

    The petition is signed by people world wide who know nothing about Carbonear. This couple just like the couple on the hill, bought a cheap piece of property and want everything done for free. What kind of business decision did they make buying the property when the sewer did not work? Why don't they hook into the sewer going across the beach? Why do they expect everything to be handed to them. I for one is one customer they won't get, crying foul and being sooky like others gets you no where.

    • Michael
      January 07, 2015 - 21:28

      You sound as if you know nothing about the other two situations that we face as business owners nor the fact that Business means tax dollars in the long run. I can imagine that for someone who can use foul and sooky in one sentence, you definitely would not be able to comprehend how wonderful our business is to the Craft industry, to tourism, or to the beautification of the Town! How sad, but I am glad we are not dependant upon your one support, I can imagine anyone who zones into one issue cannot appreciate anything good.

    • Jean
      January 09, 2015 - 11:23

      You should learn how to write properly before posting comments on the internet. The taxpayers of Carbonear pay the town council to do their damn job and they don't do squat.

    • Debra bradbury
      January 09, 2015 - 16:12

      We got a lawer when we got our land ,when you I get your lawyers here in Newfoundland aren't the suppose to be doing their jobs, that's what they are being paid to do According to the rules of Carbonear on page 17 Rural Residential density will be maintained In unserved or partly served area such as the upper levels of Chapel hill and Bunkers hill. development in these areas may be permitted on building lots of size which are capable of accommodating private water and sewage thank you and I did not ask for a free ride. All we want is for the town to give us access on a road that is already there. we have our own water and sewage.

    • Debra bradbury
      January 09, 2015 - 17:10

      You thing you know it all will let me tell you something we got a lawyer when we got the land and in the towns municipal plans on page 17 rural residential density will be maintained in U serviced or partially serviced areas such as tha upper levels of chapel hill and bunkers hill development in these areas may be permitted on building lots of a size which are capable of accommodating private water and sewage systems. Which we have not only that we pay our taxes on that land so you tell me what are we getting for free. If anything we are getting robbed