N.L. couple living without power for more than a year
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.”
Tammy Whalen placed this sign on her front door following issues regarding unpaid bills.