SPRINGHILL JUNCTION – Crafting a perfectly landscaped lawn and driveway can take years, but if the government decides to do your landscaping for you, perfection is thrown out the window.
Springhill Junction’s Kelly Melanson is finding that out the hard way.
“I work at the Amherst hospital and I couldn’t get out of my driveway, so I called my boss and he said take a vacation day,” said Melanson last week.
A new overpass is being built right beside Melanson’s home and last week they began construction on Melanson’s driveway.
Melanson does shift work at the hospital and was woken early in the morning to the sound of heavy construction equipment raising her driveway six feet.
“I didn’t realize there would be a six feet incline until two weeks ago and that was quite a surprise, but I had no idea it was going to be like this,” she said. “If they had plans why didn’t they tell me that right from the get-go? The engineers had to have known that (they needed to change the driveway) and they didn’t tell me or send me a letter, and gave me no notification whatsoever.”
Besides the shaking of her house when heavy equipment rumbles past her front door, the size of her front lawn being cut to half the size it was, and driving up and down a six-foot high driveway in the winter, what troubles Melanson most is the fear of flooding.
Melanson e-mailed her flooding concerns to the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation.
She received an e-mail from Bruce Langille, the department’s director of insurance and risk management, asking her to submit a professional report about her concerns.
A portion of the email said: “I would ask if you have obtained an engineering report or rec'd professional advise which indicates flooding will occur based on the work being performed by the Dept. Clearly if the dept acted or constructed in a negligent manner and failed in their duty to the public the Dept would investigate and if liable would certainly move to remedy the problem. I wait a copy of your professional report which confirms flooding will be a direct result of the construction activity, indeed we would provide same to our construction and design personnel for review.”
“I’m not an engineer but commonsense tells me it could flood,” she said. “What they don’t know and what they don’t care about is the weather we get.
“What if next year, or a few years down the road, we have a messy winter like the mess we had a couple of years ago? I have a strong feeling I’m going to run into serious drainage problems,” she added.
Melanson also wondered how long into the future the department could be held responsible for flooding in her home.
Melanson first saw stakes planted on her lawn a year ago.
“I came home from work and there was stakes in my yard,” she said. “I talked to the department of transportation and it didn’t go anywhere.”
Melanson feels she’s been treated poorly by the province.
“I’m not the type to stir things up but, when push comes to shove, all I want is to be treated half decently,” she said. “I’m a tax payer.”
Shelly Melanson, Kelly’s twin sister, agrees.
“She’s had nobody official from the department of transportation sit down in the kitchen and have a coffee and discuss it with her,” said Shelly. “They’re basically saying we’re going to do what we’re going to do and we’re not even going to give you a fruit basket. Suck it up.
“If she has drainage problems, it seems to me that it will be up to her to get a lawyer and an engineer to prove they did it wrong before they would even discuss it.”
As she talks the house shakes and plants rattle on the shelves.
“Even the cats are stressed out too from the house shaking,” added Shelly. “It’s stressful for the whole family.”
Melanson has been told several times the government is well within their jurisdiction to be doing what they’re doing.
“The thing that really got me upset is that they say they’re complying with the act,” said Melanson. “I got this house from family, so it means a lot to me.”
“People don’t realize this sort of thing happens because it doesn’t happen very often, but it could happen to anybody, just like that,” she added. “It just happens to be me this time.”