Saint-Lazare gives Bassenden family 100 additional days
Town resolved to follow through on court removal decision
BThe Town of Saint-Lazare has granted another extension for humanitarian reasons to a family living in a mobile home on their property even though town by-laws prohibit such permanent arrangements.
ut Saint-Lazare’s administration is resolute in its decision to follow through with a court approved judgement after the extension, and to making sure the family removes the mobile home they’ve lived in for the past 36-months after their home was destroyed by fire.
The Leduc St. land owned by Allen Bassenden is zoned for a single family home only, according to Saint-Lazare’s by-laws.
The extension means Bassenden has until June 30 to voluntarily move out of the mobile home.
As the owner of the land, he can legally build a single-family home on the lot.
Saint-Lazare does not want to forcefully remove the family from the temporary home, Town Manager Serge Tremblay said, adding the specifics about how to remove the family should they refuse to leave have not been decided upon.
We want them to leave voluntarily, he added.
Bassenden currently lives in the older mobile home with his adult daughter and teenaged granddaughter. It is unclear if his wife is still living in the trailer.
The Town held a press conference Monday in what it called a final attempt to convince Bassenden to leave the home of his own free will.
Bassenden also met with the town’s lawyer Monday morning where he was informed about the extension, as well as the looming deadline to vacate.
Steve Flanagan, a public relations expert hired by the Town to oversee the file, says the administration granted the 100-day extension so the family won’t be forced to move during cold winter months.
A Superior Court judgment upheld the town’s right to remove the family from the mobile home as early as March 21.
“The Town has demonstrated both compassion and patience since the very beginning,” Flanagan noted, adding that after “almost three years of delays and legal procedures, it is now up to them to take their responsibilities and either conform to the municipal by-laws, leave or move their mobile home.”
Offers of help
Bassenden has been fighting with the Town since his home burned down on March 22, 2011. He filed an almost $800,000 negligence lawsuit against then Mayor Pierre Kary and the town’s fire department, alleging the fire department wasted time in extinguishing the fire. The claim did not hold up in court. At the same time Bassenden filed a lawsuit against his insurance company, which paid his outstanding mortgage but did not pay to replace the home. The insurer alleges Bassenden had been operating an unauthorized auto mechanic service out of the home at the time of the fire. Bassenden disputes the claim, saying he only did work on cars owned by family or friends.
Since his home
down, Bassenden has been helped by people who collected money, food and goods for the family. And Saint-Lazare equipment rental company Tri-Tool cleared his lot of the fire debris for free last year, while a local contractor stepped forward with an offer to rebuild the home free of charge if he could secure donations of building supplies. Bassenden later accused the contractor of wrong doing and the offer fell through. Bassenden says he has no way to pay for a new home since he and his adult daughter are both unemployed. His wife, Joni Malley, is allegedly the sole financial provider for the family.
And now Saint-Lazare officials say they’ve had enough, adding other residents including Bassenden’s neighbours, deserve a certain quality of life, too. The Town has granted the family “numerous compromises and deadline extensions” during the past 36-months, while also spending more than $36,000 responding to Bassenden’s charges, or filing their own in a bid to compel him to comply with town regulations.
Tremblay and lawyer and Town Clerk Nathaly Rayneault have devoted entire days to the dossier, Flanagan noted. Sitting before Rayneault during Monday’s meeting were five files each inches thick that she has amassed during the 36-month long struggle.
Town Communications Director Geneviève Hamel said Bassenden and his daughter were given a booklet indicating the numerous public service agencies that could help them if they were to leave the mobile home.
“But they have to ask for the help,” she said.
The Town says Bassenden still owns his land, and can continue to live on it, though not in a mobile home.
For his part, Bassenden attempted to gain entry into the 2 p.m. press conference Monday, but was told it was for media only. He has maintained that he will refuse all attempts to move out of the trailer he now occupies.
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