OMB dismisses claim by owner of furniture business

A claim for compensation from a Mount Forest business owner has been denied by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

The case involved Country Carpet and Furniture  owner Jason Oakes and Wellington North Township.

Oakes claimed his business suffered considerable financial loss during the closure of the street in front of his  business during main street reconstruction known as “the big dig”  from April through June of 2009.

The business owner claimed his business lost about $75,000 due to the road closure and limited access for deliveries to the store.

He closed his store for a month after efforts to reach an agreement with the township on accessibility to the business failed. He re-opened the store when the work finished in mid-June.

The board, in its ruling, contended that business owners were given  adequate notice of the work which saw new water and sewer services installed  and reconstruction of the street and sidewalks in the town’s core area in 2008 and 2009.

The work was split between Queen Street and Wellington Street the first year and Wellington Street to   Birmingham Street, where the furniture store is located, in the  second year.

“Although there was substantial interference with access to the claimant’s business and the claimant sustained consequential business losses, the board finds that the interference was not beyond what the claimant ought to have expected given the nature on the neighborhood in which its business is located,” the OMB stated in its ruling.

“The reconstruction undertaken by the township was necessary. While carrying out its statutory duties, in a timely and efficient way, to maintain its roads and services, the township needed to close the road on which the claimant’s business is located and which provided access.

“There was no other option that could have been employed by the township. This was unfortunate, but unavoidable. On balance, the  need far outweighed the temporary interference suffered by the claimant.”

The board also ruled the township and Oakes will pay their own legal costs.

“I accept the decision,” Oakes told the Advertiser. “I’m also slightly relieved. I took a big chance in proving my case.”

He added, “They found my case to be valid … It’s unfortunate it went as far as it did. All I was doing was trying to protect my business.

“It was never about the money. To me it was (the) principle.”

Mayor Ray Tout said he was pleased with the outcome of the hearing, but declined further comment.