Bumpy road for pothole victims

Christine Drew is still seeing red over potholes.

Her car got banged up on the Airport Parkway during a long weekend back in 2008.

“It damaged the car right away,” she said.

The shocks on her 2000 Dodge Neon were cracked, busted and broken.

“We were on our way out of town and we had to come back and get another vehicle.”

Drew owns a garage, Doval Automotive, and was spared the cost of labour.

So she filed a pothole damage claim against the city the next business day, sending a $320 receipt for the parts.

About one month later, she called the city to follow up.

“They had no record of it and I just gave up,” she said.

The paperwork vanished and so did the crater — about 45 cm deep.

“They fixed it before I could photograph it,” said Drew. “It’s pretty frustrating. It’s a one-way money spree.”

The city spent roughly $2.2 million repairing potholes in 2010 while just $693.95 was paid out in damage claims.

The exact number of potholes in Ottawa is unknown, but the city’s 311 information line has received almost 1,000 calls so far this year.

The potholes seem to be multiplying quickly, but the number of people filing pothole damage claims against the city is shrinking. About 173 claims were filed last year, down from 253 claims in 2009 and 533 in 2008.

“Weather conditions and freeze-thaw cycles play a very significant role in the number and severity of potholes in any given winter and it would generally be those weather factors that would bring about an increase or decrease in claims,” said city spokeswoman Jocelyne Turner.

In the last six years, the city has received 1,499 claims. The majority — 1,341 or 89% — were denied.

Since 2005, the city has picked up the tab for $33,211.39 in pothole damage. In 2008, the payout of $14,636.30 was huge — more than the amount dished out from 2005 to 2007 combined.

While cabbies are on the road trying to make a buck, they aren’t filing claims.

“Our people usually don’t do this. It’s such a long process and we don’t have time,” said Amrik Singh, president of the Ontario Taxi Union/CAW Local 1688.

Drew said she’s never doing one again. “It’s not worth the frustration to get treated that way by the people you give all your money to,” she said.

If you are going to file a claim, report the pothole to 311 first.



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