Tenants given until July to find new accommodations
Several families in Wabush are feeling a weight lifted off their shoulders.
After being served with three-month eviction notices earlier this month, several families who reside in an apartment building in Wabush were left in a state of panic. Many of them worried they would not be able to find new homes with the housing crisis in the area and the coldest winter months approaching.
© Danielle Higdon
Tenants of this apartment building in Wabush can now breathe a sigh of relief. The eviction notice has been extended to the end of July, and Mayor Ron Barron insists that no one will be told to leave until they have a new place to call home.
Some of those concerns have now been addressed. Town officials, as well as MHA Nick McGrath, met with the company who recently purchased the property to discuss how they could alleviate the stress the families were facing and decided to give the families six month’s notice as opposed to three months.
Chantelle Lush, who has lived in the building for three years, says she is satisfied with the decision.
“I do think the situation was handled fairly,” she said. “It is disappointing that when it comes down to it we are being kicked out for contractors, but there isn’t much you can do in this booming economy.”
Ms. Lush says she was particularly impressed the new owner was willing to negotiate.
“I appreciate them giving us until the end of July to find a new place,” she said. “Now we aren’t stuck without a home in the winter time.”
As for what she and her boyfriend will do once July arrives, Ms. Lush says they have a lot to consider.
“Right now, we’re leaning towards buying a new home,” she said. “But it’s a big decision because buying a place for $400,000 when the bottom can drop out of Labrador West at any time is scary.”
Ms. Lush also said she feels the mayor of Wabush and the MHA of Labrador West were prompt in addressing the issue.
Ron Barron, Mayor of Wabush, says that going into the meetings with Dexter Mining Inc., the new owner of the property, and MHA Nick McGrath, his main concern was the wellbeing of those residing in the building.
“I just wanted to make sure that the tenants who are there were going to be looked after,” he said. “It was very surprising to me when I found out this happened, so I made a call to Nick McGrath and he arranged a meeting.”
Mr. Barron says the decision of extending the eviction wasn’t his first choice of action, but that it certainly helps.
“It does give the tenants some reprieve for a little while to find new accommodations,” he said. “So to a certain extent, I am satisfied. Ideally, I would have liked to see residents able to stay in the building indefinitely and for the company to move employees in as tenants moved out on their own. But it’s their building, so we can’t control that.”
“The intent is not to kick anyone out at any point,” he said. “It’s to make sure everyone has a new place before they leave.”
While this particular incident seems to have been resolved, Mr. Barron says the issue of affordable housing and accommodations is still urgent.
“This is nothing new,” he said. “This has been on the go for the last number of years in Labrador West. People in this area are trying to get the best bang for their buck, 99 per cent of people are doing that and you can’t blame them. It’s the nature of the beast here. But my fear is that this is only just starting and we need to try and get our head around that.”
Nick McGrath, MHA for Labrador West and Minister of Labrador Affairs, says he is impressed with how quickly community leaders and corporate representatives were able to come together to find a solution.
“With the Christmas Season upon us the last thing those residents needed to deal with was ‘what are we going to do in a couple months time?’” he said. “So I really appreciate that everyone was able to come together and say ‘what can we do for these people?’”
Mr. McGrath says he was particularly pleased with the company who now owns the building and their approach to the issue.
“That company has been in business in Labrador West for 50 years and they hope to be around for 50 more,” he said. “So they made it clear to me and the community leaders that they were more than willing to cooperate and that they had no intention of turning anyone out in the cold.”
McGrath says that with the housing crisis in Labrador West, the experience set an example of how teamwork can prevail.
“The housing issue is affecting everyone,” he said. “And the ling of communication was opened with this experience. I believe in solution building rather than problem solving, and I feel that because everyone involved was able to come together, we were successful in finding a solution.”
Mr. McGrath also emphasized that while the employees of Dexter Mining Inc who will eventually live in the building are employed as contractors, they will not be fly-in fly-out workers. The employees living in the building will be permanent residents of Labrador West.