Le­duc St. fire house de­mo­li­shed

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

In the end, it took about 10 hours to de­mo­lish the char­red re­mains of a house at the centre of an al­most 20-month long con­tro­ver­sy in Saint-La­zare.

Al­lan Bas­sen­den’s fa­mi­ly home, lo­ca­ted on Le­duc St., was com­ple­te­ly des­troyed in a March 22, 2011 fire.

Since that day, he and his fa­mi­ly have li­ved in a trai­ler be­hind the bur­ned re­mains.

Bas­sen­den’s wife, Jo­ni Mal­ley, has suf­fe­red emo­tio­nal dis­tress from ha­ving to look at her one-time fa­mi­ly home eve­ry day.

But she doesn’t have to look at it any­more.

A good sa­ma­ri­tan in the form of a lo­cal bu­si­ness­man step­ped up in a big way last week and re­mo­ved the de­bris free of charge.

Dean Tri­neer, a Saint-La­zare re­sident and ow­ner of Tri-Tool, a tool and equip­ment ren­tal centre that has ope­ra­ted in the town for al­most 15 years, said he just felt hel­ping the fa­mi­ly was the right thing to do.

And though Tri-Tool has spon­so­red ma­ny com­mu­ni­ty groups over the years, this is the first time Tri­neer has un­der­ta­ken such a hands-on pro­ject.

“I kept dri­ving by (the bur­ned house) and saw no­thing was being done... I just wan­ted to give him a hand when I saw that no­bo­dy else was hel­ping,” Tri­neer said, ad­ding Bas­sen­den had been a loyal cus­to­mer of his for more than 10 years.

Tri-Tool had of­fe­red to re­move the de­bris al­most 10 months ago, but Bas­sen­den and the Town of Saint-La­zare were in a le­gal tussle over the de­bris’s re­mo­val, as well as the fact the fa­mi­ly has been li­ving on the pro­per­ty since the fire in an ol­der mo­del mo­bile home. The Town says the li­ving ar­ran­ge­ment contra­venes a mu­ni­ci­pal by-law.

Ear­lier this year, the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty of­fe­red to pay the up­front cost of ha­ving the de­bris re­mo­ved if Bas­sen­den agreed to pay the cost back in ins­tall­ments.

But ne­go­tia­tions stal­led months ago when Bas­sen­den bal­ked at a $13,500 price quote for the job. He de­cried the fact the Town on­ly got one quote, and one he felt was too high.

A deal re­cent­ly rea­ched bet­ween Bas­sen­den and the Town al­lo­wed Tri-Tool to re­move the de­bris free of charge if Bas­sen­den pro­vi­ded contai­ners and had the de­bris hau­led away.

Tri-Tool’s do­na­tion means Bas­sen­den will end up paying less than a quarter of the Town’s quo­ted price for the re­mo­val.

And while he could not comment on the spe­ci­fics of the deal that saw the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty is­sue Bas­sen­den the nee­ded re­mo­val per­mit, Mayor Ro­bert Gri­mau­do said last week he was hap­py the char­red re­mains would be gone.

The job

Tri-Tool set up se­cu­ri­ty fences around the Le­duc St. pro­per­ty Thurs­day af­ter­noon then brought in a crane to re­move the chim­ney, which Tri­neer said was the most dan­ge­rous part of the job be­cause its proxi­mi­ty to a Hydro line. He was back on the job at 8 a.m. the next mor­ning. By 3 p.m. Friday, all that re­mai­ned was the slab on which the house sat, and the concrete steps that once led to the front en­trance.

Bas­sen­den’s daugh­ter, Na­tha­lie Ga­gnon, 33, who li­ved in the home with her 14-year-old daugh­ter, both of whom al­so now live in the trai­ler, said it was a bittersweet day.

“I’m hap­py and sad that (the house) is going down,” she said.

Cal­ling it “one less thing they have to wor­ry about,” Tri­neer said he hopes the fa­mi­ly can be­gin to move for­ward.

“So­me­times when you help so­meone, they help them­selves, too,” he said.

More bat­tles to come

Bas­sen­den will be back in court in June to de­fend him­self against the Town’s by-law for­bid­ding them to live in the trai­ler on their pro­per­ty.

He says the fa­mi­ly of four have now­here else to go. And with on­ly Mal­ley pro­vi­ding an in­come, they live hand to mouth.

Ha­ving re­cent­ly re­co­ve­red from health is­sues, Bas­sen­den is rea­dy to find work doing any­thing pos­sible to help sup­port his fa­mi­ly. He’s en­cou­ra­ging his daugh­ter to do the same.

He will al­so face off in court against his for­mer in­su­rance pro­vi­der, Be­lair­di­rect. The com­pa­ny has al­le­ged­ly re­fu­sed to pay a fire claim, sta­ting they be­lieve Bas­sen­den was ope­ra­ting an un­de­cla­red au­to re­pair business out of his ga­rage. Bas­sen­den dis­putes the claim. He is suing for $800,000, plus costs and emo­tio­nal dis­tress. The case will go to court in May, 2014.

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