ST. LAZARE, Que. — A long-standing dispute that started in the backyard of a family in a small town west of the Island of Montreal has managed to reach the Supreme Court of Canada.
The case could bring an end to one of the most convoluted and bizarre chapters in St. Lazare’s history.
The family of Allan Bassenden have lived in a trailer on their property on Leduc Street since March 2011, when their home burned down in a mysterious fire. This disaster triggered a series of disputes that culminated in the city ordering the trailer removed from the land.
“Around the neighbourhood, we’ve received a lot of complaints over the years, and now it’s time to close this case,” said Steve Flanagan, a spokesperson for the city.
“It’s a question of respecting the by-law.”
The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Bassenden, meaning an order by the city of St. Lazare to remove the trailer will be enforced.
The history of this situation is awash in lawyers, bankers and insurance companies.
Bassenden’s insurer declined covering the damage, on the grounds that he was working as a mechanic out of the property, which is forbidden in the policy. Bassenden currently has cars on jacks on the property, which he says are belong to him.
Strangely, the company did shell out more than $100,000 to pay off Bassenden’s remaining mortgage. What’s more, the circumstances of the fire are largely unknown and the cause was never determined.
If that wasn’t enough, more than a year ago Bassenden’s house became the target of a Christmas charity drive that was supposed to help the family rebuild its home. This ended acrimoniously and resulted in hardly any new construction.
Now faced with a bit more than a month to find a Plan B, Bassenden said that he feels like his back is against the wall.
“We don’t know because we still have no money whatsoever,” he said. “It’s a real catch 22 situation.”
Some of the residents who talked to Global News said they feel for Bassenden’s situation, but they wish the city would do something about the eyesore the property has become. Many residents worry about home values, while others view him as a hard-luck neighbour who is fighting a losing battle against a more powerful authority.
“We don’t even know where we’re going to live,” Bassenden said. “We have no money to even go rent an apartment to even go live in.”
The city has informed him that it will take the trailer to the scrap yard by June 30 at 7 a.m.
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