Advisory of the day
RIVER VALLEY PARK, ON
RESIDENTS DENIED SAFE WATER AND SANITATION, ARE BEING FORCED FROM THEIR HOMES
This story is brought to you in part by
by Cori Marshall
As part of the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed Resolution 64/292, on July 28, 2010, The resolution recognizes access to clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right. In 2003 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted General Commitment No. 15: The Right to Water.
"The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights."
UN, General Commitment No. 15: The Right to Water, 20 January 2003.
In Canada, a country with such a large concentration of freshwater, we generally don't tend to think that people have difficulty accessing clean water and sanitation. People do have difficulty accessing adequate water in Canada and one such case is now forcing people to move their mobile homes.
River Valley Park has had issues with sanitation that date back at least four years and Faith Hackney, one of the homeowners took the time to explain what residents have faced and are facing.
Hackey explained that the park was purchased by Harjeet Dusanjh in 2014. Prior to the sale the park had been under a boil water advisory (BWA) for more than a decade. The new owner "installed a UV light filtration system and we finally had water we could drink after at least fifteen years," Hackney said. Ownership of the park changed hands again in November of last year, Dusanjh's brother Jasbir assumed the role.
The park has now been under a BWA "since the spring when we had issues with the loss of water. We needed to shut down the system at night in order for the reservoirs to fill up again," explained Hackney explained that
"The current owner will not replace the UV lights and has cancelled the water testing," Hackney said, "as long as the UV lights aren't working he doesn't have to do the testing, he is just leaving us with the [BWA]." She added "it's all about money."
Adding insult to injury the park experienced "two power outages to the lower level of the park since July 22, 2018," Hackney said. She explained that the outages were due to an illegal electrical hook-up. "The last time, on September 4, 2018, the power blew the transformer, and when I called the owner he informed me that he would not be fixing it because he had no money."
Hackney and other owners were advised to have the issue fixed by the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit, and then she was "threatened that [she] could be charged by the owners for fixing the power without their authority."
"The sewage system needs to be replaced, it worked as long as the owners had the sewage pumped twice a week," Hackney said, it had been weeks since it had been pumped. New work orders were issued and Hackney said "there [were] no health issues that [she was] aware of."
Hackney intimated that "most of us wanted to stay" until an incident between owners. Now residents are preparing and moving out of the park.
Home owners were first informed of the park closure in June 2017. "Algoma public Health came door to door handing out a notice," Hackney said.
This situation is not as simple as packing up and moving out. Hackey said there are emotional and physical impacts. She said they "include but are not limited to medical illness that require surgery, additional medication caused by the stress, anxiety and torture of hanging on for our dear lives to save our homes."
This is also about personal finances, Hackney explained that "approximately 30-40% of homeowners in RVP fall within the low-income bracket, but the financial strain is being felt by everyone, which adds to the stress level."
Hackney's family has been in the park since the mid-eighties and she herself moved back in 2013. She is a mother of school aged children who she said '"are sheltered from the mess of it all." Hackney is in the process of moving herself and her mother's mobile home before the first snow.
Residents recently received notice that the electricity will be shut off "due to contractual issues," while homeowners are in the midst of packing up their lives and moving.
We reached out to current park owner Jasbir Dusanjh, at the time of publishing he had not yet responded to our request for comment.
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