It has been 20 months since his home nearly burned to the ground, and on Friday, Allen Bassenden said he felt some sort of relief to see its remains demolished.
“I think everyone will be in a better mood once it’s gone,” Bassenden said Friday morning as a backhoe tore up the remains of his home and dumped the debris into one of two large blue dumpsters. “I understand it’s been hard on everyone to look at this every single day.”
Bassenden said he ran out of money and couldn’t afford to demolish and rebuild his family home since the blaze in March 2011. He and his wife, daughter and granddaughter have been living in a trailer on the property since that time.
“It’s a bit cramped, but we’re managing,” Bassenden said.
Linda Foley, the comptroller for Tri-Tool, based in St-Lazare said the company offered its services because it wanted to do something to help.
“He has been a customer of ours for the last 10 years, and no one was helping this poor man,” she said. “We wanted to do something to give back to the community.”
Tri-Tool provided the equipment, and owner Dean Trineer conducted the demolition.
The demolition was estimated to cost about $3,000, plus another $2,000 to haul away the material.
He is in a legal battle with the town of St-Lazare which is trying to evict him from the property, saying town by-laws don’t permit anyone to live in a trailer as a principal residence.
Bassenden and his wife are also battling with an insurance company, which declined their claim, stating they had not been notified that he did automotive repairs in the garage of his home, a charge he has denied. Bassenden said he only worked on his own cars as a hobby. That case will only go to court in June of 2014.
Bassenden claims he doesn’t have enough money to rebuild the home, and is demanding his insurance company honour his claim and award him the $800,000 that he is due in his policy. He said he’d like to continue to live in a trailer on the property until the home is rebuilt, but that could be for several more years as his case drags on through the court system.
St-Lazare general manager François Vaillancourt said the town will allow Bassenden to stay in the trailer for now, but hopes he can rebuild soon.
“So far, the council has been very lenient. We have done a lot to accommodate the family,” he said. “At one point, we’ll have to treat him like any other citizen. We hope that in the next few months, certainly not this winter, that he’ll be able to provide for his family with good accommodations.”