Taxpayers in Canadian city paid $4,600 to remove utility pole from city councillor's house
Taxpayers covered the bill to move a utility pole in front of Charlottetown City Coun. Alanna Jankov’s new driveway, despite the company insisting that the councillor foot the bill herself, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“When Jankov built her garage and her driveway, there’s no way she didn’t see that pole would be in the way,” said Jay Goldberg, Interim Atlantic Director of the CTF. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for $4,600 because of design choices in a councillor’s home renovation project.”
The removal process began in June of 2021, when the city of Charlottetown requested that Bell relocate five utility poles on Greenfield Avenue between Green Street and McGill Avenue. The city made the request for a road construction project.
It also requested the relocation of one additional pole in front of Jankov’s residence at 19 Spring St., three blocks away from the work site.
Before the 2021 request was made, Bell told the city that the homeowners at 19 Spring St. should be the ones footing the bill for the cost to move the poll.
The company’s position was laid out in emails between Bell’s staff and Scott Adams, the city’s manager of public works.
Adams reached out to Bell on Mar. 6, 2019, saying the pole at 19 Spring St. was a safety concern for a resident entering and exiting their driveway. He told the company he believed Bell needed to pay to move the pole.
Bell disagreed with Adams.
“As a result of the land owner changing the configuration of his yard, he has proposed to move his driveway to an area where this pole has been for decades,” wrote Allan Meston, a field construction supervisor with Bell. “Bell advised him that any movement of the pole would be at his cost, and that cost would include not only Bell's costs to move the pole, but the costs to other utilities whose facilities are on the pole. We provided him a quote for the costs last year, which he rejected.”
Metson wrote the homeowners at 19 Spring St. “made changes to their land with full knowledge of the placement (location) of our pole, and proceeded with such changes.”
The city decided to pick up the bill, despite Bell insisting that the homeowners pay the cost.
Bell sent the city a quote on June 7, 2021 for the removal of six poles: the five poles at the work site plus the one at 19 Spring St. The price tag was $27,767, or $4,627 per pole.
The city’s purchase order issued ten days later didn’t include the 19 Spring St. pole, but maintained the price tag of $27,767. The city has not explained this discrepancy, despite multiple questions from the CTF.
The taxpayer-funded removal of the pole outside of Jankov’s home went ahead in September of 2021, despite Bell’s statements that the homeowners should have paid the bills.
The CTF asked Jankov whether or not she believed it was fair for city residents to pay for the pole to be moved, and whether or not she would be willing to repay the amount spent on the removal.
“I followed the rules of what I was told to do six years ago on something that was blocking a driveway of a home I bought,” said Jankov. “I'm sorry, but that's all I have. And your tone is actually making me feel really uncomfortable because I don't know anything more about it.”
Jankov’s explanation leaves questions for taxpayers.
“This is a scandal, clear as day,” said Goldberg. “Taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for Jankov’s design choices. Jankov should do the right thing, which means reimbursing taxpayers and apologizing for sticking them with a bill that she should have paid for in the first place.”