Oakville Homes

June 24, 2011

History lesson – donations go a long way to getting one’s way.

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Just got back from a whirlwind tour of Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Grove City, PA; and, Cleveland, Ohio.  Interesting tour of the “rust belt“.

Our stay in Johnstown focused on the “Flood of 1889” and we toured a couple of museums while wandering the town.  For more on the actual flood, which killed over 2200 people, go to this link.

Johnstown had experienced floods before and, has suffered some since then.  What was notable about this flood was the enormous death toll and the fact that maybe it could have been prevented if certain people had followed safety procedures to ensure a man-built structure didn’t fail during a serious rain storm.

Several miles above the town, there was a man-made lake – largest in North America, that was originally built to supply water to a canal system.  The dam was left to deteriorate and  eventually, the surrounding land was bought by a group of very influential and powerful people.  A group that included Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon.  Suffice to say, money was spent on more frivolous things and very little on the dam maintenance.  During the storm of 1889 the dam burst and the resulting flood travelled the valley, wiping out small towns and also Johnstown.  After it was all over, the dam owners escaped any type of legal indemnification.  While touring the area and watching the informative movies, it came to me that this was similar to my Mattamy experience, although at a much reduced scale and fortunately no loss of life.  More luck than anything else.

Mattamy put in wiring that put my family at risk.  Exposed to the elements and walking traffic, the wiring to my furnace could have failed at any moment and caused a fire, thus putting my children at risk.  Brought to the attention of the authorities, the Town of Oakville, they did nothing.  The report was buried, Mattamy was not brought to task for breaking the code and, the Building Department did nothing regarding this lapse of their responsibility.

My point was to ensure a by-law was passed allowing any homeowner to hire a building inspector to look after their interests as it was obvious that the Town of Oakville and a builder were unable to do so.  A simple request brought forward that you would think a concerned politician would have no problem authorizing.  But, alas, no.  Seems getting donations was more important and, Wellspring got their money, while Mattamy skated away free.  Putting people’s lives at risk was not on the Council agenda.  Not even an apology for allowing it to happen.  The lawyers circled the wagons and put up a defence to ensure nothing would be done to protect future homebuyers.  Mattamy, since then, has even made it very difficult for a homebuyer to hire a house inspector to look after their interests.  After a sale closes and you take occupancy, you can, but lets face it, on a lot of issues, that is too late.

A responsible company that builds a good product would have no issue with someone being hired to protect the customer.  I am sure when Peter Gilgan builds his own houses, he has someone look after the project.  Any large custom built house will have a oversear.  So, why can’t we at the bottom end of the house market be allowed to incorporate this protection.  Ensuring a builder follows code and does a professional job should not cause any reputable builder any concern.

Now, try to put in a deck or something else without a Permit and the Town will be on you like white on rice.  Probably fine you, order it removed and make you pay for a permit to rebuild.  Mattamy, they just put in the wiring without thought to safety and the Town goes along with it.  Kind of like a system that hits the low end and lets the high end get away with it.  But then, the Town of Oakville has let others get away with things.  Ask some about the  solid waste  plant up near Burnamthorpe and how they were polluting the landscape for years without the Town doing anything.  Seems if you have money or are willing to donate, there is a different set of rules for you.

After the Johnstown Flood, Carnegie built a library there.  Donations given then and donations given now.  History really hasn’t taught us much, except, if you have the money to make a donation, you can get special treatment.  Yes, nothing has changed.

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* The above is intended to show the reader examples of how to obtain a house inspector, no matter which builder you buy from. Remember, awards and advertising are designed to make you buy, not ensure you quality. We’ve shown that awards are not the standard on which to base your decision on. My use of my experiences are not made to embarass Mattamy Homes or Peter Gilgan but, are used because they are based on fact and show the larger picture that a house inspector is a requirment when buying a house, new or old from any builder. My experience only shows that in fact it can happen and is a fact of life. Your experiences with Mattamy may have differed.

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