REPORTING · 10th March 2015
Kitimat City Council received information concerning a request to write off a trailer as Tax Exempt on Monday, February 23rd. Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to request the ability to write off the unpaid property taxes for J7, 653 Columbia Avenue.
There was plenty of documentation concerning the history of this trailer. According to a letter from Lee Anne Wolfin (which were supplied by Kitimat Housing), the trailer could not have been legally sold by Donny Emerson Jr. because it was not up to the electrical code, she applied for an Order of Possession to have it removed from her lot.
The next owner, Renzo Furlanato fell behind in his rent and was evicted. He was told he had not transferred the trailer into his name properly so all the taxes were owed by Emmerson.
There was a brief note from Kitimat Housing stating Wolfin has been ordered by the Residential Tenancy Branch to stop enforcing or attempting to enforce Home Sales of the park rules, which includes her requirements on electrical inspections and codes.
There was also a section concerning an unnamed tenant who purchased the trailer from Furlanato. He was told he was allowed to have tenants, and then could not have tenants by Wolfin. He was later informed if he did not remove the trailer, it would be burned to the ground. In the end, he walked away because he did not wish to deal with the hassle.
Council also received a letter from Wolfin’s Lawyer, Michael Gemmiti. Gemmiti claimed Wolfin had a cordial relationship with the tenants until the Kitimat Housing Resource Project and ‘a select few tenants’ created the Vista Village Home Owner association which has no legal standing. In addition, Wolfin has no ulterior motive but to use the park as a trailer court.
Most of the letter from Gemmiti concerns what appears to be a rivalry between the Kitimat Housing Resource Project and the Vista Village Trailer Court Landlords. Five Pages in, it addresses the topic at hand.
The letter explains Wolfin wishes to demolish the trailer in question and this is a step which needs to be taken prior to its demolition. She allowed Furlanato into the park provided he completed a tenancy application and complied with park rules, but he was a bad tenant.
“Some of Mr. F’s infractions include: Having too many vehicles on his lot (he had four), keeping piles of garbage outside his trailer, parking a commercial vehicle in the park, and constantly running the water, despite knowing Vista Village is on a metred water system,” wrote Gemmiti.
According to Gemmiti, there were letters asking him to pay his rent, repair his trailer and comply with the park rules delivered to his door. When it was discovered Furlanato had not transferred the trailer to his name and Emmerson was still on the hook for the taxes, Wolfin wrote both parties and informed them if this was not fixed, she was going to force the trailer out of the park by seeking an order of possession.
As far as the park knew, Furlanato left town and abandoned the trailer. However, he attempted to sell it to a buyer who showed up at the park with no evidence of having bought it. Gemmiti listed a number of problems with this sale, including it being denied by Furlanato and the buyer’s wife, who controlled the buyer’s finances, denying him.
“The current ownership status of Unit J7 is unclear. It appears that Mr. F has abandoned the trailer (and two old vehicles). He has moved out of Kitimat and has not paid rent since September,2014. He is in violation of the Order of Possession by leaving the trailer in the park. If Mr. F wanted to move the trailer to his current location, he would need to apply for a transport permit which requires, as one of its conditions, a tax certificate showing that all property taxes have been paid. Most likely, J7 should be considered abandoned,” wrote Gemmiti
“We certainly have a lot of material from Mr. Lagace and lawyers. My notes to myself were: ‘what a mess.’ I don’t see a claim going forward other than the recommendation recommended by our treasurer,” said Feldhoff.
Councillor Claire Rattee told Council she had a conversation with Paul Lagace, A Housing Resource Worker. She came to the conclusion that she is against writing off the taxes. She informed Council there are cases before the court which have determined the owner of the trailer court has blocked sales. The person who owned the trailer had a buyer who was willing to pay the money until the owner of the trailer court blocked the sale.
“I don’t see why we should give her a break on a property tax that she blocked a sale wrongfully so that she could tear this trailer down. I don’t think that’s fair. I think somebody should pay the property tax. I don’t like giving exemptions to people for no good reason. I don’t personally see how that’s beneficial at all. I think that there are a lot of issues going on there that we need to have some kind of open dialogue with the owner of the trailer park because there continues to be issues,” said Rattee.
Councillor Mary Murphy wanted further information.
Council was told by Steve Christiansen said the person who was living there never paid a cent in taxes. He did not think he should step out for a person who does not pay taxes as if one person disappears, the rest of the tax payers have to pick up the burden.
“This case is giving the person a break by writing them off. I don’t like doing that, but we just got notice from BC Assessment. They have valued the trailer at down to $0.
Feldhoff expressed there was a letter from the lawyers of the trailer park owners which dispelled the comments which were made and this was not as straight forward as it had been laid out to be by Lagace. He felt this should be handled in the courts.
Rattee added the owner of the Trailer Park declared the trailer to be unsafe during the sale which is why it was blocked. The buyer was aware of the condition and was kicked off the site when he brought the materials to fix to Vista Village.
She suggested Lagace address Council. He was in the Gallery and Council permitted him to speak.
“The key word is, it is messy no matter how you look at it,” said Lagace. “Mr. Emmerson owned the trailer, 2012, sold the trailer to Mr. Furlanato and Mr. Furlanato was not granted a tenancy by the owner even though he bought it, saying there wasn’t legal grounds to actually have a tenancy. Because Mr. Furlanato was refuted a tenancy, even though he owned the trailer, and the owner accepted rent, which was grounds for a tenancy, Mr. Furlanato had an issue paying the taxes so Mrs. Wolfin tried to get the taxes from the previous owner. Why would the previous owner pay taxes when he no longer owns it,” said Lagace.
Lagace explained while Furlanato was up to date on his rent, he was evicted on a technicality. He made arrangements to sell the trailer and left town. A buyer bought the trailer for $5000. $2000-$3000 worth of material to repair the trailer was brought onto the property and the new owner was thrown off the property. It was reported to the RCMP.
“The person who bought it was willing to pay the property taxes. There was no reason that he couldn’t have bought that trailer. After being thrown off the property, obviously, he doesn’t want anything to do with it at that point. But at the end of the day, taxes were willing to be paid by both those tenants. Because of the legal jargon going on the last couple of years, that’s what prevented it. Ultimately, if Mrs. Wolfin would allow what she legally should have, taxes would have been paid,” said Lagace.
He expressed the responsibility for the taxes should rest with the owner of the trailer court rather than this being used as a write off for her own purposes.
Councillor Larry Walker asked if it was true that Vista Village had to deal with 21 abandoned trailers since 2006. Lagace replied he did not know. There were two in the last year, but there are tenancy issues where people have bought trailers and then were refused tenancy. There are blocked sales and some people who are living there do not have a tenancy agreement.
Walker asked what difference it would make if they did not write off the taxes. The response was there should be a dialogue about what is going on with the owner at the end of the day. Lagace stated they do not want to see another tax write off because of this situation.
Councillor Mary Murphy wanted to know what the cost would be to chase whomever is responsible for the trailer, suggesting hiring a lawyer to find out who is responsible. She was told it would be the previous owner through tenancy agreement. Lagace added it was a legal mess which should be attended to.
“At the end of the day, we know who the person is, they haven’t lived there for a few years, why would they pay taxes on a place they haven’t lived on,” said Lagace.
It was pointed out one of the options was to take no action. This could create an incentive to rent it out as the trailer would possibly have to stay there. Murphy expressed there were two things wrong with this scenario. 1st, they would lose tax revenue for the years it sat there and 2nd, it was claimed to be unsafe and worthless.
Christiansen told Council the stairs would have to be torn down and there were some leaks in the roof which could be patched. He added it is assessed at 0 so it will not be taxed this year, but in future years, if someone is living there, it could be taxed.
Councillor Edwin Empinado clarified the building required the tax write off before it could be demolished. He questioned Lagace’s report based on the lawyer reports which Council had received from Vista Village. Lagace told Council he had a number of documents concerning Vista Village and there have been a number of cases which have been won against the owner. In fact, the trailer in question is the only case of a case which they have lost.
Goffinet asked if Lagace is still in contact with any of previous owners. Lagace expressed he is in touch with one of the previous owners, but the owner is no longer interested in pursuing this issue.
Councillor Larry Walker made a tabling motion for December, 2015. Feldhoff pointed out the landlord has done everything legally in this case. Walker stated 2016 would be another tax year and this would stall the demolition to get the negotiations going.
Empinado asked what he is trying to do as safety was an issue. Walker said he did not look at the safety aspect as he was told it was unlivable. He was trying to get the two parties in the same room to have a discussion. The tenants who bought it are fed up and the other party is looking for an easy way out. He wanted them to talk to seek a solution.
Goffinet wanted to give a month so contact can be made with the owner on whether they want to proceed on this issue through the courts. Lagace agreed with doing this. The motion to table the decision for a month was called and carried.
Comment by rockergrl on 19th March 2015
The trail or was bought from Donny Emerson who left the trail or a pig stir and gargabage in the back yard two feet bottles and clothing shoes beer bottle a lot of garbage toilet leaking that was bought vuy renzo and put in by profional contractor who worked at Rio tino modarization camp. Donny had not taken care of the trailor or clean up the garbage or paid his taxes. Renzo bought the tràilor and put the trail or into his name motorized republic in kitimat . Renzo was paying thew tax a little at à time as the district and renzo have the reciets apparently the district hasdnt had the proper paper work from the home registry yet bit paper were legal signed at notify reblic in kitmat tranfer owner ship into Renzo Furlanetto name. Metro manager of vista village had no problem and was pleased to see the yard and garbage that donnyn emmson left behind . The garbage in front of trail or was for the spring clean up as they have every year and what they don't take it took 4 trips to the dump as metro knew and had no problem but Leeanne expected renzo to have everything done in a couple days .no possible for anyone to do everything in a couple days or construction or piut up siding Metro was at eàriybird when we were inquiring about cost and supplies needed to fix up the trail or. We had a certified else ctriction that càme in and said thing were good but we want to remodel the trailor and put heaters in as the only source of heat was a wood stove . Election sail Leanne hasto up grade the visvista trailor hydro pole so we could put base board heaters and and a new circuit power pannel . apparently that is Leanne responiobility to upgrade thew power poles. Renzo had paid rent was a bit late paying the which he was not working at the time but late rent was paid àmd next month àlso .metro hjadnt giving any reciets said he would do that as rent was paid in cash .tra
Or wasnnt abondonàs Leanne said . renzo had a biuyer for trailor Leanne wouldn't let the new owed to buy the tràilor which the new owner had said he was doing the remodeling Leanne caused him and his wife much distress and made his wife cry appoligy is needed. Renzo hqad noticed papers as owner and taxes was party paid as to leamnme àdvictiction was based on metro not communication properly with Leanne about the thing that were going on and the trailor court residence activioties
Park owner should eat tab
Comment by SPiche on 19th March 2015
I think because the park owner blocked all normal processes...and for so long, that "they" should be liable for all taxes and/or demoing/removal of said trailer/s. They can chase the taxes owed through courts like all other towns work.
Actually, I think every owner who leaves such unsightly sites/buildings around town should be "heavily" penalized/taxed to motivate them to demolish, remodel or re-build...including areas like The Nechako Shopping Centre, The Industrial area slum lots down and across from the "just as unsightly" Hotel, and The Hot Springs on the highway.
These places all are part of the reason there is such oppression in many of the minds of people who visit and live here...Not to even go into the subject of the rampant vandalism, hooliganism, arsons, & home invasions we've been seeing over the past few years.
I'm so so tired of looking at so many ugly/abandoned and unsafe buildings in Kitimat. Who isn't...but Kitimat does nothing about it...All for what? Lucrative tax write-offs and "dark alley handshakes"? I say enough BS already!
I mean seriously - friggin squabbling about signs NOT being beyond such and such height? Spending ludacris amounts of money on equipment we won't use? Really?
Come to Kitimat, they said...Retire here, they said...
A Council member or mayor (I forget now) once said they didn't want Kitimat turning into another Vancouver... I say, you don't have to worry about that...This town shows no reason to walk through into the 20th century and offer it's young people ...or retirees anything to beam about...there's certainly no pride here...it seems anyway.
I've lived in towns/cities that had bylaws/fines that dictated that you must NOT allow your property to cause other property values to drop due to unsightliness.
Bulldoze or fine each and every abandoned/unsafe building and force the owners to deal with them, then pump some money into making this town something any one of us (Young or old) would be proud to call our home!
And maybe...while we're at it...let's present each and every one of Council with a copy of the PC game Simcity...it can/will teach them at least a thing or two about what makes and/or breaks a "struggling" town/city!
Comment by red on 18th March 2015
Mario I think your talking to wolfin in sheeps clothing
Comment by AL on 11th March 2015
surprised anyone would be accepted to become a tennant there.
Filled out a request for tenancy in 2013 because I was interested in purchasing a trailer that was for sale there. Denied. More rules to abide by than being in the military.
1 small pet, 1 motor vehicle, no rv's, no boats not even allowed a row boat or drift boat. No motorcycles (what a joke with the dyke road right there)no atvs. The list of no's went on and on.
Owners mentality towards tennants is not going to bode well for the future of Vista Village.