Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 13, 2003
WYD flood upsets businessman
Complex owner says city, church are stonewalling him
By ART BABYCH
“It’s not fair withholding information or not saying anything at this point.”
- Gerrit de Boer
De Boer also said he’s disappointed with the church. “It’s not fair withholding information or not saying anything at this point. I haven’t had a letter from the Church at all saying ‘We feel it’s not our fault and here are the reasons why.’”
But Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said there are too many unanswered questions. “There’s the whole aspect of who authorized the situation? Was it the engineering company that had been hired? Did the people who clean the sewers get proper information?”
He said the WYD organization has been “amassing all sorts of facts” related to the incident. “At this point we’re just preparing ourselves to see what happens and respond to it.”
He noted, too, that Idomo had already received “a sizable claim” from its insurance company and suggested that legal action, if any, would likely come from the insurance company itself.
World Youth Day organizers apologized for the damage caused to the businesses following the incident but maintained that the companies that were contracted to handle the waste disposal followed proper procedures.
The sewage overflowed into the business plaza after a plastic raincoat and some plastic bags clogged a section of the city’s waste system during the July 29th papal mass at Downsview Park attended by 800,000 people. City officials said it is possible the plastic items were discharged in one of the 7,000 outhouses at the World Youth Day mass.
A city official said there was no doubt that the sewer system was capable of removing the waste from the WYD site but noted that “plastic bags and raincoats do not normally enter the system through toilet facilities.”
De Boer said the contract from WYD to provide toilets to the site was $4.5 million. “That’s a lot of money but the question is was the contract properly given out? Were the contractors doing the proper thing? Did the city properly overlook the contractors or did it give proper direction? I know at this point nothing because nothing has been released by either the (WYD) organization or the Church or anybody.”
He said that over the next few weeks he would try to get the parties to release the information he wants but added, “If everybody still takes the premise that it’s not their fault, then unfortunately it starts going to litigation. I really find that unfortunate.”
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