As River Valley Mobile Home Park in Aweres Township continues to be without a septic system approved by the MOECC (Ministry of Environment and Climate change), homeowners living within its boundaries are on a perpetual rollercoaster of emotions.
Saultonline spoke with Michael Mantha, MPP Algoma-Manitoulin, who has been a conduit for River Valley homeowners, supporting them through information, facilitating meetings, and as a listening ear. Mantha has been proactively trying to find resolution for the homeowners, but as his frustration grows, so too do the problems at River Valley.
“The owner met with the MOECC a couple of weeks ago – and since that time, the MOECC, to the best of my knowledge, has not heard back from the owner.” stated Michael Mantha, MPP Algoma-Manitoulin.
At some point over the winter (2018), former owner Harjeet Dusanjh, due to health reasons, sold his stake in River Valley Park to family. According to residents Saultonline spoke with, Jasbir Dusanjh is the primary owner and Surinder, his brother RV Park Manager.
Mantha said, “The owner investigated other options for fixing the septic system, and as far as I know, no one company or individual has been retained at this point. We’re back to the same place as we were before. The owner still needs to secure funds – to provide financial assurity – and it has to be submitted to MOECC before any work can start. As of May 1st, no such documentation has been made, to the best of my knowledge.”
“It’s not the role of the MOECC or APH to evict people from their homes. That responsibility falls on the owner. And the owner has to provide appropriate notice to each homeowner. As far as I know there has been no notification given from the park owner to the homeowner.” stated Mantha.
“Under the landlord tenant act there can be up to 12 months notification given to each of the homeowners. That hasn’t happened yet.”
Under The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are responsible for maintaining a residential complex (such as a mobile home park) in a good state of repair and fit for habitation, and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. Tenants who believe that the landlord has breached their responsibilities under the RTA can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a remedy. This could include applying for compensation for costs incurred as a result of the landlord failing to comply with maintenance responsibilities, such as relocation costs.
“I am working on the assumption that he has not provided a plan for park closure to APH. I have to assume that APH will have to go in and make some kind of investigation. What that will look like – How that will roll out – I’m not sure. APH will have to take action as they see fit. They’re likely going to submit their compliance orders and they’ll be reviewed in front of the courts and then the park owner will be called in order to explain why he hasn’t lived up to the compliance order.
In an email shared with saultonline by RV Park homeowner Faith Hackney, dated Friday, May 4th, 2018, Kara Flannigan, Public Health Inspector with Algoma Public Health stated,
“We haven’t received a plan from the owner to close the Park as we requested.
Following up on non-compliance with the order will be through the courts. Fines are determined by the courts.
The Park cannot continue to operate without a functioning sewage system.
The failed sewage system has not been replaced. It appears there aren’t any actions to do so.
Hopefully, residents in the Park have their “alternate arrangements” underway.”
With fines mounting, River Valley Park homeowners are left with daunting prospects.
“I believe as of May 1st, fines are happening in the amount of $5,000 per day against the owner.” shared Faith Hackney.
In a notice dated March 21st, 2018, APH delivered letters to River Valley homeowners stating that the compliance date for the closure order, originally issued on June 8, 2017, and which had been extended to November 1, 2017 to allow time for residents to make arrangements for relocation, was still in place.
The RV Park owner had until May 1st, 2018 to respond. The APH letter further stated that, under the order, the Park owner is still required to provide tenants of River Valley Park with services and protect people from exposure to sewage until the final closing date.
On Friday, March 4th, 2018, MPP Michael Mantha held a meeting with homeowners at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, located across the highway from River Valley Park.
Two homeowners spoke with Saultonline after the meeting on the issue of back taxes owed by River Valley Park Inc. to Provincial Land Tax Office in Thunder Bay.
RV Park Manager, Surinder Dusanjh met with several homeowners last week and shared that getting financial assurance for a new septic system can’t be arranged because about $28,000 in back taxes is owed to Provincial Land Tax Office in Thunder Bay.
During that meeting, the idea of an additional proposed monthly lot fee was floated. No decision was made about that, and residents are still in the dark as to which end is up.
Homeowners James Sloane and Darby Dunn said, “Under the landlord tenant act, the Park’s owner must provide tax assessment for each homeowner as to the value of their individual property. This has not been done in 2016, 2017, 2018. Any proposed monthly fee cannot be done without a proper assessment.”
Homeowners Diane Ross and Faith Hackney, as well as MPP Algoma Manitoulin, Michael Mantha are interviewed in the video below. Mantha wanted to bring the residents together and get all the most up-to-date information shared, and clear up any misinformation.
“We’ve been scared that we will have to go on a moments notice. I’m going to stay and keep praying that someone will come and save us.” shared Diane Ross. “It’s been very hard not knowing what the outcome is going to be. It’s a horrible – horrible way to have to live. There’s no peace. We have to keep holding on to hope.”
Living under extreme duress is taking its toll.