Lunch and Learn: Drains and Trains

Lunch and Learn: Drains and Trains

Under the Drainage Act, a municipality is responsible for maintaining drainage works after construction.

The costs for maintenance are distributed amongst the landowners in the watershed according to the maintenance clauses contained in the current report.

Duties of the landowner under the Drainage Act

What happens when one of the landowners is a National system of trains and railways and refuses to pay their portion of the maintenance bill of the municipal drain?

Lobbying Efforts:

  • Letter from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, May 2021
  • Letter from the Ontario Minister of Agriculture to CN Rail, December 2021

“Drains are always prorated and everybody pays according to the benefit they get from that drain. When CN just decides that they’re not going to pay and hold up the whole process in the system, it causes a backlog. That’s an issue that AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario) and other organizations have identified.”

Todd Case, Mayor of Warwick Township, February 2023

Rural Ontario Municipal Assoc. Intervenes in Drainage Dispute with CN Rail

ROMA has applied for intervener status because of the negative impact of these actions on rural communities throughout Ontario. According to research gathered by ROMA, at least 30 municipalities – mostly ROMA members – indicated they experienced problems with Drainage Act compliance by CN. 

ROMA’s view is that the matter should be resolved, as with any landowner, through the appeal processes set out in the Drainage Act. If CN wants to make a constitutional argument that it is exempt from the Act, that debate should be heard by the Ontario Superior Court.

News Release, May 2023

ROMA Intervenes on Drainage Act Dispute with Railways

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Conversation with ROMA Chair Robin Jones and lawyer Stéphane Émard-Chabot


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