Irricana councillor issued stop order by Town of Irricana
Councillor Frank Dusome was issued a stop order by the Town of Irricana on July 10 in accordance with the Municipal Government Act.
Dusome is accused of having an unsightly and untidy property, having altered surface elevations and clear cutting trees and bushes, destroying four healthy deciduous trees, accumulating debris and constructing a fence and retaining wall without authorization in Founders Park.
Dusome is being ordered to pay for replacing the trees at an estimated cost of $619.50; returning the property to its original elevations; removing the fence retaining wall, debris, and reimbursing the Town $550 to confirm the property line between Founders Park and his property.
Dusome said the incident began when the road in front of his house was repaved last year, causing water to drain into an existing swale, located in Founders Park.
“Now it dumps back into my property,” he said about the storm runoff.
“That’s not right.”
Dusome said he began backfilling his property to prevent the swale from emptying water onto his property.
Dusome claims the Town went to Alberta Environment and complained about him interrupting the water’s natural flow.
Dusome said he disagrees with the Alberta Environment statement that storm water naturally drains east along his property. He thinks it travels west.
Dusome claims Founders Park once had a swale that carried the water away from his property, but it was filled in by the Town years ago, a belief that was confirmed by CAO Alvin Melton.
Dusome said heavy rainfalls have to drain somewhere.
“Somebody has to be the bearer of these 100-year floods,” Dusome said. “They don’t want it to be the campground, the industrial area or (other) people’s properties.”
In addition to the water drainage issue, Dusome said he approached the Town about two years ago because he wanted to build a fence between his property and the campground to prevent trespassing.
“Kids would come here, smoke dope, light fires, it was just a matter of time before someone was going to get hurt in here or light the place up,” Dusome said.
However, he wasn’t certain of the property line and claims he was told to “deal with it himself,” by the Town.
Dusome said he put up a temporary fence, which has since been taken down on order of the Town.
Dusome said he feels the two issues are related and that the Town is trying to intimidate him by raising concerns about the fence.
“Now they were going, ‘let’s make sure we make his life miserable’,” he said.
He said council held an in-camera meeting without him, after which he was ordered to remove the branches he had used to fill his land in preparation for building the fence he wished to construct in the abandoned swale between the two properties.
Dusome said he is frustrated with the situation.
“It’s my property and I want to make it level…,” he said.
In answer to the allegations of clear-cutting, Dusome said he cut down one tree, the majority of which he believed was on his property, and removed several caragana shrubs.
During an onsite interview, Dusome pointed out the stump in question.
“This one is on my property,” he said, adding he hadn’t set out to destroy campground trees.
Two of the other trees in question were missing about a foot of bark around their bases, damage Dusome attributed to his son, Ian, who he said scuffed them with equipment while cleaning the abandoned swale.
Dusome said the fourth tree, which he said grows on a slant, is the most contenscious.
“This one bugs me the most. You can see I’ve been no where close to this tree,” Dusome said, noting that he is being held responsible for the tilt of the tree.
“There’s no way on earth (it was caused by me).”
Dusome said the trees were unhealthy prior to the situation, adding that is likely the reason a wind storm blew trees onto his property, tearing power lines from his house and knocking out two sections of his fence, in 2010.
As soon as he cleaned it out, he was given the stop order by the town.
“Then they attacked me again,” he said.
Dusome said he wants the Town to work more cooperatively with residents, adding the stop order could have been avoided with open communication.
Dusome said he has owned the four-acre property for four years and has spent about $50,000 on landscaping his yard.
Melton said he cannot discuss details of the stop order until the appeal comes up at the next council meeting on Aug. 20.
However, his account of the incident differs from Dusome’s.
“Basically what happened was he trespassed on campground land and bulldozed a whole whack of trees,” he said. “If you look at all the trees, they’re at a slant. (Dusome) has taken all the brush that is piled (on his property) and put them up against the trees and that’s why (the trees are) at an angle now.”
“You have to put it back to it’s natural state,” he said, adding the Town wants to keep the northeast portion of the park natural.
“We want to make sure that the campground is an inviting spot,” said Melton. “We want to keep it natural, lush and enjoyable for all the campers. Having someone trespass and cut down town trees and bulldoze the land: it’s unacceptable.”
Dusome said he hopes the appeal on Aug. 20 will be discussed publicly.
“He (Dusome) can appeal it, but when somebody trespasses and destroys public property and puts up a fence on someone else’s property – you can’t do it,” Melton said. “That’d be like me coming into your backyard, cutting down all your trees, digging up your lawn and saying ‘Hey, tough luck, it looks better now.’”