Mike Defazio got sick of the potholes that were cratering his street, and no one from the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, never seemed to show up to fix them. And these weren’t just any potholes.
“Some of them were eight or 10 inches wide and two feet long and almost a foot deep,” the auto body repair shop owner told the CBC television network.
But Defazio waited. And waited. Still, the city never came along to fix the potholes. Then one day he was driving down Broadway Avenue to his shop and hit one of the potholes — and blew out a tire.
Still the 60-year-old Defazio was willing to wait. But the next day, when he looked out the front of his shop and saw a hearse and funeral procession gingerly attempting to weave between the holes, that’s when Defazio made up his mind.
That was it. Defazio decided right then to become a pothole vigilante.
Armed with his own tractor and a supply of gravel, Defazio took to the streets and filled in the potholes himself.
“Enough is enough. Between me blowing a tire and having to watch a hearse do that, I took my little Kubota tractor and took some fill from my yard and poured it in the hole,” he told Canada’s National Post newspaper “I spent all morning, about three-and-a-half hours. I filled in numerous potholes.”
But on Wednesday, three weeks after taking the pothole problem into his own hands, he got a call from the city. It was Saint John’s deputy commissioner of transportation Kevin Rice. And he was not a happy camper.
“He said I broke a city bylaw, that I’m not supposed to be doing that,” Defazio recounted. “He ragged me out like I’m some little kid.”
In so many words, Rice told Defazio — “Put our potholes back!”
Threatened with being forced to reimburse the city for the cost of un-repairing the potholes, Defazio and some of his employee went back to the street and re-dug the potholes. It was such a big job to re-damage the road that he had to hire a local contractor to help.
“I told him everything, all the rocks, all the potholes, could go back to the way it was three weeks ago and he said ‘That’s what we want,'” Defazio said.
Rice said that there had been complaints about gravel possibly flying up and damaging cars. He said that the city would send a crew to the area on Monday, but warned that due to cost concerns, not all of the potholes would likely be fixed.