In January 2010, my wife and I purchased a small house in Bridgeview Drive, Cape Woolamai to fulfil our dream to retire to the beach. We moved in the following May, at the end of the 10 year drought and very soon our dream turned into an ongoing nightmare. In June 2011, after heavy rain, I woke to find my backyard and shed flooded.
I reported my flood at the Cowes council office, and that afternoon two council workers arrived to see the problem. It was clear to them that the flood was caused by the concrete boundary wall which went two feet (50cm) underground and was acting as a dam, stopping the natural drainage of the land and holding back the water. They told me that the council should something about it, and they returned to the depot to check the drainage plans. The workers returned the next day with the response from their boss: “it’s his problem and he can do what he likes about it”. The flood lasted four days before the water abated. The yard flooded again in November 2011, and again the council was notified. I was told that the previous flood had not been logged in the computer. This time the report was logged in front of me. The same workers visited and again could do nothing to help.
The yard and shed has flooded several times since, including last week. After the November flood, I submitted the question ‘did the council ever provide a permit for the building of the wall?’, to the November 16, 2011 council meeting. I also lodged an objection to the application for the subdivision, which showed the wall as being included in the plan. Ms Hannah Duncan Jones rang and told me that she did not have time to answer my question at this meeting. The minutes of this meeting advised that a revised condition had been proposed to address my concern. On November 29, 2011, as I had heard no more from the council, I contacted Cr Gareth Barlow, who visited my place to observe the problem. I told him I believed my question to council had not been suitably answered and I thought it should have been followed up at a later meeting. He agreed that it should be, and that I also should get a written copy of the answer. He said he would contact Ms Duncan-Jones.
This resulted in another phone call from Ms Duncan-Jones in February 2012, who told me that she had not found an answer, but “back then they would not have needed a permit” which I have since found is not true. Nothing on paper, again. Ms Duncan-Jones has since confirmed that a permit was issued after the wall was built, and that the wall was built six inches (15cm) inside their boundary and called a structure rather than a boundary fence. The original boundary fence was obviously removed to allow the wall to be built. I later found out that the revised condition was to remove the wall from the plan. This certainly addressed the council’s concern, but nothing addressed my concern. I have since heard nothing regarding the outcome of the wall. When I notified the council of the last flood, I got a call from David Hall who told me it is not a council problem and that I should contact my neighbour to sort out a solution. It seems that if you are just a ratepayer, rather than a rich developer, the council is not interested in you.
Neil Wilson, Cape Woolamai