WELLINGTON NORTH – Township council has denied a request from a property owner in Arthur who wanted water and sewer fees waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its Aug. 24 virtual meeting, Wellington North council heard from Sameer Mohyyudin.
He owned 125 Berkshire Drive in Arthur until July 31 and he said his tenants left just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.
The property then stood vacant until it was sold in July.
“Even though the property’s vacant I’m still liable to pay for the water and the sewage bill and I received the bill for five months, six months you know, which I couldn’t pay because of financial difficulties,” Mohyyudin said.
“I don’t know if it’s fair … though nobody was living at the property, still I’m liable to pay the bills.”
He asked that some or all of the bills be waived between Feb. 25 and July 31, at which point the property sale closed.
“I didn’t use the services and you know for five months the property was vacant and why should I pay for something that hasn’t been used at all?” Mohyyudin asked.
He suggested looking at the electricity bill or asking neighbours to verify no one was living at the property for the specified time period.
However, councillor Lisa Hern said having those services connected would have helped him sell the house.
“It is so difficult to sell a home with water and sewer turned off,” she said.
The rest of council also chose not to support Mohyyudin’s request.
Mayor Andy Lennox said he understood Mohyyudin’s resistance to pay for services he didn’t receive.
“Unfortunately, through our water and sewer services, the vast majority of the cost associated with those things are services related to the pipes and infrastructure in the ground that continues on 100 per cent of the time whether any water’s moving up the pipe or back down the pipe so to speak,” Lennox explained.
“So to suggest that we’re going to waive those costs – we didn’t disconnect the pipes from your property, they continued to have those services for the entire period of time – so I personally have trouble looking at anything that would waive it.”
Lennox also noted many residents leave to go out of the country on vacations.
“I think, in terms of our policies, to waive it under these circumstances would not be fair to all the other residents who pay those ongoing infrastructure costs month in and month out and have them available to their homes,” he said.
Councillor Steve McCabe agreed.
“I think if we were to waive this that would set a pretty wild precedent for everyone else that’s in Wellington North … I’m not in support of waiving them,” he said.
Councillor Sherry Burke asked if a payment plan could be set up for Mohyyudin to pay the bills.
“I can appreciate the fact that you might be having some financial struggles due to COVID,” she said.
CAO Mike Givens said the township would be open to having that conversation with Mohyyudin and McCabe agreed this was a good option.
However, Mohyyudin said if the charges couldn’t be waived he’d make the payment the next day on his credit card.
“Thank you for coming and sharing your story with us,” Lennox said.
“We certainly can sympathize with the challenges you faced.
“But unfortunately I don’t think we can do anything about waiving the fees at this particular time.”