By Mike Williscraft
“Complete vindication” is how Rebecca Jordan reacted to the Ontario Municipal Board’s award of $115,000 in damages to be paid by the Town of Grimsby.
The decision, delivered by OMB member Blair Taylor, outlines several major issues with how a major construction project was managed on Main Street West in the stretch right in front of Jordan Greenhouses, operated by Rebecca and her husband, Jeff.
A “reactionary approach”, “careless implementation and supervision of the Project,” and a series of moves designed “with the convenience, welfare, and best interests of the contractor only at heart,” were several key reasons the OMB findings went in favour of the Jordans.
“The list of problems is far too long to get into and I really don’t want to do that anyways. It is all there in the decision. I hope people read it to see how town hall really operates,”
The OMB hosted a lengthy hearing in mid-October 2014 at which a great deal of e-mail, video and verbal testimony played out.
Town manager Keith Vogl said a review of any possible next steps would come at council’s next meeting.
“Obviously we are disappointed with the decision. We have requested the Town’s solicitors to attend the next council meeting on March 2, 2015 to give us his perspective on the decision, the implications and any options we may wish to consider,” noted Vogl in an email.
At issue was the Jordans’ claim for compensation for “injurious affection” caused by construction along Main Street West where the couple operated Jordan’s Greenhouses.
While the OMB found “that Jordan’s was injuriously affected by the construction activity carried out in the Spring of 2010, under the auspices of the Town” the evidence road to get to that decision was long. The whole process took five years.
The planned construction start was to be mid-November 2009. The Board recognized the Town pushed for that start, but Kenwood Trenching and Sand Excavating Ltd., which was awarded the contract, did not meet that target.
Evidence showed Kenwood was emailed about the project. No response was received, so a follow-up email was sent Dec. 17 noting no start date had been proposed, signed contracts had not been received.
When the contract was received, it noted a March 15 start date, with completion by June 1.
The timeline would overlap the prime season for the Jordans’ greenhouse operation and would bankrupt the business, Jeff Jordan told Grimsby public works director Bob LeRoux after getting a copy of the Town’s letter outlining project details from a neighbour.
The Board found the Town’s mangement of the project was designed to meet minimum standards, citing comment by LeRoux as an example.
“They have a contact number if they have a problem and, ah, that’s the way we approach the project. If you— if you stick your hand in a jar of snakes you’re gonna get bit and to tell them they’re gonna have problems and concerns is only—it’s not a positive approach to it,” LeRoux is quoted in the decision.
“In this case, the pursuit of minimum standards has led to a situation where the Town could not remedy a fundamental timing issue that was arbitrarily made at the outset without due care and attention to the area and the properties in that area. Moreover, the Board finds that this approach led to the careless implementation and supervision of the Project where the contractor provided not even a preliminary construction schedule until after the Project had commenced, provided no fixed construction start date, manipulated the signing of the contract to facilitate a start date to suit the contractor, provided no traffic plan, failed to comply with the Ontario Traffic Manual, and in essence managed the Project with the convenience, welfare, and best interests of the contractor only at heart,” states the decision.