N.L. cou­ple liv­ing with­out power for more than a year

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY CHRIS LEWIS

Liv­ing with­out lights, elec­tric­ity, wa­ter or sewage may sound im­pos­si­ble in this day and age, but for one Har­bour Grace cou­ple, it’s been a year­long re­al­ity.

Tammy Whalen has lived in her home on Har­vey Street for the last 21 years. The home is hard to miss with its vi­brant purple colour scheme. Now, how­ever, Whalen’s put up a sign on her front door, hop­ing to catch the at­ten­tion of passersby for a much dif­fer­ent rea­son.

The card­board sign states that she has been with­out a proper in­spec­tion since last year, and that her lack of power can be traced back to the Town of Har­bour Grace.

“No ques­tions or com­ments. I can’t take it any­more. Di­rect it to the town,” the sign reads.

Whalen lives in the house with her part­ner, Richard For­ward, and her youngest son. Whalen and For­ward told The Com­pass their sit­u­a­tion spi­ralled out of con­trol fol­low­ing an un­paid town coun­cil bill dat­ing back a cou­ple of years.

The bill in ques­tion cov­ers wa­ter and sewage for the home. If un­paid, the home in ques­tion will have those ser­vices shut off un­til the bill is paid again.

Whalen ac­knowl­edges the fact that she has an un­paid bill re­lat­ing to wa­ter and sewer. Her ac­cess to light and power, how­ever, is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent bill — one that Whalen says she has paid.

“The fact that we have no power com­ing to this house makes no sense,” said Whalen. “I don’t owe any light bills, and whether or not I owe the town for wa­ter should have noth­ing to do with my lights or my power.”

For­ward, Whalen’s part­ner, has been ac­tively try­ing to set­tle what he be­lieves was a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the par­ties in­volved. For­ward told The Com­pass he feels as though it is his place to do so, as Whalen strug­gles with se­vere men­tal health is­sues.

“I stand up for her be­cause she can’t prop­erly do it her­self,” For­ward said. “I’m not go­ing to let them bully her. She’s in a hard sit­u­a­tion, and it shouldn’t be like this.”

Ac­cord­ing to Whalen, all she needed to get proper power in her home is an in­spec­tion from New­found­land Power, as those bills were paid for.

Whe­lan said an in­spec­tor told her that New­found­land Power was in­structed by the town not to come to Whalen’s home un­til her town coun­cil bill was paid.

Whalen be­lieves the town coun­cil bill, which gets big­ger ev­ery year as it goes un­paid, should be no more than $4,000 or $4,500.

How­ever, Mayor Terry Barnes said the amount of money owed by Whalen reaches into the $7,000 range.

Barnes also ex­plained that coun­cil does not have di­rect con­trol over these sorts of go­ings on in the town.

“If some­one is not pay­ing their bills, their re­sources get cut off, plain and sim­ple,” ex­plained Barnes. “We as coun­cil don’t do that. If you’re not pay­ing your bill, your wa­ter and sewage is cut off, and then we hear about it af­ter the fact. Coun­cil­lors, or any­one who has a seat on coun­cil, don’t pick and choose who gets to keep their wa­ter and who doesn’t.”

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Tammy Whalen placed this sign on her front door fol­low­ing is­sues re­gard­ing un­paid bills.

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