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REPORTING · 16th September 2015
Walter McFarlane
The Chaos in Vista Village came up at Council at the Regular Meeting of Council on Tuesday, September 8th. Paul Lagace, the housing worker and Mary Turner, who lived in Vista Village approached Council.

Turner wished to update Council on her court case. However, Mayor Phil Germuth told her she could not name names or even share the details of the case for legal reasons. Lagace summed up the results.

“Miss Turner had an agreement in 2004, she got an additional lot which was a $50 increase, when she didn’t need the lot, $50 was taken off. In testimony, in documents, it was said that it was intentionally deceived, that is in the ruling… long story short, she owes $8000 back rent. That’s the fundamental thing,” said Lagace. “The issue is, Miss Turner, as a result, will lose her trailer, she is not permitted to sell it, that’s a fact. We have a buyer right there that’s been refused a number of times. She owes $8000 so she can’t sell the trailer, she just had another eviction notice, she will be evicted because she’s behind on rent, and that $8000, even if she tears down her own trailer, will go, could potentially be put forward as a lean against her new house that she bought to try and get out of the trailer court.”

“At the end of the day, she’s lost her home, no money, and potentially, a lean against her house,” concluded Lagace on the case.

Lagace however had something else he wished to speak about to Council. The Trailer Park residents had been sent a letter by watermark. The letter explained several vehicles had been parked over the line of the water mains and had leaked oil which had damaged the pipes. He said if it was enforced by the RTD, there could be evictions.

He pointed out there were old oil tanks in the owner’s storage area. He said he did not know the condition of them. He showed them a car which may have been leaking oil.

“Now, there is a potential that cars can be removed from the park. [The residents] have already been asked to be limited to one car. A number of these families are working families with both people have cars,” said Lagace. “The letter is perfectly clear that it is causing damage to the pipes.”

He asked Council if there is concern about the oil, could Council contact the Ministry of Environment to look at the oil tanks which are on the property.

Finally, he handed Council an article on the closing of the trailer park in Port Edward from the Northern Connector written by Shawn Thomas. He briefly talked about the issue, but also pointed out that the lawyer speaking about the Port Edward trailer park in the article, Michael Gemmiti, is also the lawyer representing the owners of Vista Village.

When asked about these concerns, Gemmiti told us: “Vista Village has some empty tanks on its property that it has tried to properly dispose of. The disposal companies have not picked up the tanks because it is too small a load to justify the trip to the park. Vista Village continues to look to properly dispose of the tanks. These tanks are empty and not the source of the potential contamination.”

He expressed they do not have the legal right to remove personal property, including vehicles. He stressed that there is no intention of closing down the park.

“Rumours of a park closure seem to be solely attributable to Paul Lagace. Such unfounded rumours are distressing to many long term residents of the park,” said Gemmiti. He added that his involvement with other legal matters are irrelevant to the ongoing issues.

Vista Village was brought forward at Council the following week. A report was given to Council. Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to receive the report for information. He asked staff to summarize the report.

The report is about the oil containers which were shown in the photograph presented to Council on Tuesday, the 8th of September.

“What we did with this concern was we looked at it like we normally would, with any bylaw that comes in or any complaint of any kind,” said CAO Warren Waycheshen. “Although with a… we’ll just call them trailer parks… for the most part, people always realize, their pretty much open to the public, you can go in and take a look. If we’re going to be having enforcement, or possible enforcement, we would do this under the Community Charter, we would give notice or ask permission so we haven’t gone on to do any research on this topic yet because of the strict sections of the Charter.”

He told Council that Bylaw Enforcement returned rather well from the strike which took place earlier this year.

Waycheshen said they plan to take a look, and possibly refer this to another agency. They could also give a ticket. They could also go to the courts for compliance. This is often used for zoning infractions. Finally, there is clause in the Community Charter where Council can decide that if something is causing a hazard, they can ask the person to clean it up before the District goes in to clean it up and charges them for it.

“I think what works the best is if you can go and talk to people and get a compliant owner. If you can do that, you can go through and I think that we were really lucky of late to spend the time with people and not have to take the harsh enforcement action,” said Waycheshen.

Councillor Larry Walker wanted to know what rights the Fire Department had to trespass when public safety is at risk. Waycheshen stated there were different agencies which would be involved in this and the Fire Department could go in if something was spilled which could cause a fire hazard. However, in this case, they just cannot go in.

Councillor Edwin Empinado verified they had not investigated the complaint and asked if there was a timeline. At this time, staff is simply verifying Council’s direction.

The motion was called and carried.
empty oil tanks?
Comment by paul lagace on 19th September 2015
mr. gemitti states the oil tanks are empty. so im slightly confused why a vac-truck is sucking the liquids out of them, today. ...he should have at least let ms. wolfin know first - before she hired someone to come and clean them out.