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The Stories...so far

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Part 2 - 12/20/14
Part 1 - 12/10/14

OTTAWA FLOOD-PRONE HOMEOWNERS FACE OFF AGAINST CITY



An Investigative report by Jeanne Rouleau

The City of Ottawa ‘Residential Protective Plumbing Program'(RPPP), leaves residents frustrated

Over the past few days, I've been speaking with several homeowners who have applied to the program. I heard comments such as: "Why do I need three (3) quotes, when some of my neighbours only had to submit one?" "I know who I want to do the work, so what's the point of getting two more quotes","we can't get plumbers to give us quotes", "when a plumber thinks he won't be getting the job, he doesn't bother coming to the house"," plumbers charge to come to the house, and come only if they have the time", and then finally "it's been dragging on for so long, and I keep getting nowhere with the plumbers, and the time it's taking. I'm at the point that I think I'll just forget about it".

Since all the people I've spoken with, have already been accepted to the program; have met all of the residence criteria; have had the RV Anderson assessment, and received their approval letter; and have at least one quote, (usually from the contractor they want to hire to do the work), they all question the City of Ottawa's motive in insisting on three (3) quotes.

Now, bylaw 2005-209 regarding the RPPP states in section 12 "An applicant in receipt of the notice of grant approval shall, (a) obtain and submit to the Deputy City Manager at least one (1) quotation but no more than three (3) quotations for the work with additional quote(s) required until such time as, in the opinion of the Deputy City Manager a reasonable quote is received; and (b) not proceed with the work until the Deputy City Manager has confirmed in writing that the quote received is reasonable and that the work may proceed". The owners hands' are tied.

It is not clear under which program representative's authority the rules were changed, but they are being enforced as evidenced by a letter from R.V. Anderson to one of the applicants which states "Once you receive a minimum of three quotes, please forward them to us for approval." James said he's waiting for the 3rd quote, but it's a waste of time.

I have a list of more than twenty (20) owners, whose applications are stuck at the three (3) quote phase, and until the three (3) quotes are submitted for approval to R. V. Anderson, everything is stopped for these people.

Another intriguing fact is that R. V. Anderson, having scheduled the date and time for the assessment with the client, arrived at the residence with another worker and two members from a plumbing company. Jess told me how disconcerted she had when she opened her door to admit no less than four people. At the time of our conversation, she couldn't think of the name of the plumbing company the two men came from.

I reviewed the bylaw again to see what other reason there might be to slow or stop the process. Bylaw 2005-209 states that "Grant allocations shall be considered by the City on a first come first served basis to a limit not to exceed the annual budget allocation for any given calendar year." Therefore, I contacted the City, and although they couldn't say how much, I was assured that there were plenty of funds available for the RPPP program, and that the City is still accepting applications.

On December 16, 2014, I spoke with a City of Ottawa 'Residential Protective Plumbing Program (RPPP)' representative, Frank Crook. When I asked him how many RPPP applications the City had received in 2014, I was informed that over 474 applications had been received between Jan. 1 to Dec. 16, 2014, but they were at different stages in the process.

However, when I asked how many had been processed in 2014, he said he wasn't at liberty to give out that information, and that I should contact his superior, Shelley MacDonald, Program Manager.

I asked him, before he hung up, if he would review the RPPP process with me, and what R.V. Anderson role was in this process:

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