City woman still out of her home increasingly frustrated

Cory
Cory Hurley
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Joan Hanlon is seen outside her home on Valley Road Tuesday.

CORNER BROOK — Joan Hanlon is growing increasingly frustrated as each agency she turns to seems to be deflecting responsibility.

More importantly to the woman who, along with her husband Leonard, has been out of her Corner Brook home since the bank gave away next to her home during  the flooding of Nov. 28, nobody is providing any help.

She first turned to the City of Corner Brook, whose workers were on the scene the morning a tree fell and the land around it slid due to the current of a brook next to her property. There is some discrepancy about exactly what those workers told her, but she says she was told to immediately evacuate her home for safety reasons.

Her house is now just feet from the steep embankment overlooking the brook, and her basement concrete steps just inches away from the drop. She and her husband are staying with their nextdoor neighbour, afraid to return to their home.

Mayor Charles Pender said his public works staff does not have the authority or expertise to tell a person to leave their home. He said the city is not responsible for the damages to the Crown land and that staff has contacted the Department of Municipal Affairs and provincial representatives about the situation.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent was in Corner Brook Friday. He said department staff monitored the flooding in Corner Brook closely, and were aware of Hanlon’s situation. They also contacted the Department of Environment and Conservation, he said.

“The best advice I can offer, at this point, is for Mrs. Hanlon to stay in touch with the City of Corner Brook, and if, at some point, the city wishes to apply for municipal capital works funding, for instance, to do some work in that area, that is certainly something we will consider, with all the other capital works requests we do receive,” Kent said.

It is common for the Department of Environment and Conservation to do flood zone assessments and flood risk mapping in such areas.

“There is mapping in place that the Department of Environment and Conservation has done along the bodies of water in question,” he said. “It is quite common to have a right-of-way, a buffer zone, along bodies of water.”

Hanlon said she wrote Kent again Tuesday morning, expressing her urgency in hearing a response.

“We pay our taxes and our insurance,” she said in her letter. “We help people all over the world, but we need help here now too.”

Now, almost two weeks later, Hanlon is still waiting for somebody to tell her she can or cannot return to her home.

“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “Oh My God, it is driving me insane, and Len is sick as a dog.”

Hanlon feels as though she is being ignored, or nobody is willing to accept responsibility. She at least wants closure before deciding exactly what she has to do.

Nobody was made available following a request for an update from the City of Corner Brook Tuesday.

Organizations: Department of Environment and Conservation, Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK

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  • Sandra
    December 12, 2013 - 09:19

    This is the reason municipalities have building codes. If someone wanted to build a house that close to a brook these days they would never be allowed. That house was built back in the days before the city even existed as a municipality. Guess what - water in a brook will erode the bank over time - no surprise there. The land beside the brook is crown land - the province is responsible for it and the brook. The city can't be expected to fix this one or they'll have to fix another 100 just like it. Do you want your taxes to pay for that? As for the cost of hiring an engineer to evaluate it - I had to do that on the last house I owned because there was a crack in my foundation. It cost about $5,000. I didn't expect the city I lived in at the time to pay for it, and why would I. This is private property bordering on crown land - not city land. The property owner is in a tough spot, but she's going to have to take responsibility for her own property and do what anyone else would have to do in this case. As for what the city workers told her, who knows? Probably some poor sap thought he was being helpful by suggesting she should get it checked out, but because he's wearing a city hat she thinks she can blame the city.

  • george p b
    December 11, 2013 - 19:35

    City does not have expertise to do a simple "slope stability" evaluation??? Charles, your city engineer should have an answer, or you need a new engineer...Further it would not cost a lot of $$$ to get a civil engineering firm to give an evaluation...So if there is a stability problem, then fix it before further damage occurs.... Mr Mayor, these folks deserve better..... Kent should have said "It'll be fixed within a week" Instead we get political pablum & tossing a ball around... “The best advice I can offer, at this point, is for Mrs. Hanlon to stay in touch with the City of Corner Brook, and if, at some point, the city wishes to apply for municipal capital works funding, for instance, to do some work in that area, that is certainly something we will consider, with all the other capital works requests we do receive,” Kent said.

    • Sandra
      December 12, 2013 - 09:22

      Why should THE CITY do a slope stability test? It is not city land - it is provincial crown land and her property is private property. If this had happened on the FRONT of her house where the city has a right-of-way, she could go after the city, but this is not city property.

  • Concerned for the owners
    December 11, 2013 - 14:21

    Ya it's pretty bad when they can help people in other country but somebody in need in there own city and paying there property tax each year can't seem to get nothing done, but I bet if they didn't pay there property tax the city be there pretty quick to get what they can.

  • Too Funny
    December 11, 2013 - 08:53

    "Hanlon feels as though she is being ignored, or nobody is willing to accept responsibility. " Take some responsibility yourself and hire an engineer. The two governments are playing the ignorance card but they can't ignore a documented engineer's report. Keep in mind it could turn out that you are partly responsible.

  • Jack
    December 11, 2013 - 07:55

    She should put her house up for sale and ask the city to give the buyer an occupancy permit. We will see then if they tell her its unsafe. Force their hand. It's either safe or its not.

  • f
    December 11, 2013 - 07:31

    For the love of God would someone help this poor woman and give her the answers she's looking for so she can move forward. Nothing worse than the feeling of being misplaced and especially two weeks before Christmas. As for the mayor saying that the public works staff does not have the authority or expertise to leave their home that's not saying it didn't happen. I find it hard to believe that this woman would just make that up off the top of her head to voluntarily leave a home, that was built by her father, unless someone who she THOUGHT had the authority to make that decision to told her so. This is SUPPOSED to be the season of giving......would someone please give this woman the answers she needs.