A thorough explanation can go a long way to satisfying a complainant, even when the resolution may not fully correct the underlying problem. A homeowner had lived in his home for many years when he began to experiencing flooding. He suspected it was caused by infill redevelopment in his neighbourhood.

When the homeowner first contacted us, inquiries showed the city had investigated and had asked some of his neighbours to take corrective action. The case was closed as action was being taken. Some work was in fact completed, but not exactly what the homeowner expected. He made inquiries again with the city, but by then it was winter. The city said it would send an inspector in the spring if he experienced flooding again. Not satisfied with the city’s response, the homeowner once again contacted the Ombudsman. We suspected better communication might help. The city had tried to address the situation, but its explanations lacked clarity. The investigator met with a city official who offered to give a better explanation to the complainant about the city’s investigations of the flooding and its conclusions.

In late spring the chief administrative officer (CAO) wrote to the complaint making the following points:

    • an engineering consultant hired by the city found the homeowner’s backyard was the low point in the neighbourhood;
    • the infill property was not the cause of the flooding as it had been graded in accordance to the bylaw;
    • the city had required other adjacent landowners to take steps to ensure they were in compliance with the grading bylaw; and
    • an inspection in the month before the city manager wrote showed a potential problem on third property was not contributing to the flooding.

The city manager said the solution was for the homeowner to regrade his lot to bring it into compliance with grading bylaw, or possibly seek another engineering solution.

The complainant thanked us for working with the city. He understood the city’s position at last. He knew his neighbours had acted in compliance with the bylaw. At that point he still did not know if the corrections made by his neighbours had fixed the flooding for good, but he was in a better position to consider his options. The CAO also made a point to thank our investigator for her work in resolving the complaint.