We should have no sympathy for Robert Bresciani, owner of the doomed Les’ Trailer Court west of Red Deer.
But we should be concerned about the fate of the people who live in his long-tattered rural neighbourhood.
After addressing years of complaints about water quality, sewer drainage, safety compliances and other maintenance issues, the provincial government finally ordered him to make $2.5 million in upgrades to correct abhorrent safety issues.
Bresciani, calling the health laws “BS,” said he’s sick and tired of fighting the system. He has served eviction notices telling residents to vacate by Sept. 13, 2013.
Some tenants, meanwhile, are required to boil their drinking water, by order of the province.
Bresciani feels he’s been victimized by Alberta Environment, leaving him little choice but to close the gates because he can’t afford the upgrades.
“I believe that the law is full of BS, unjust and unfair. I don’t want to fight it anymore. If it was 30 years ago I would have tried to do something.”
But it’s 2012 now, and health concerns should be taken very seriously. Alberta Environment has put its foot down with good reason.
Bresciani says he “has been compelled to make the infrastructures of the trailer court like if the trailer court was going to be built today. This is too costly, we cannot afford it.”
In fact, no facility, regardless of age, is exempt from today’s rigid health standards. Les’ Trailer court should not be the exception.
In truth, Bresciani has refused to even submit regular water samples. That’s hardly because it is too costly (the province pays for the tests, he just has to collect the samples).
The real victims here are the tenants who pay their rent and rightfully expected proper sanitation.
Those to lose the most are residents on welfare. Many will be forced to walk away from their homes because other alternatives are out of financial reach.
And many units are too old to safely move.
“Some of them have been here for 20 years,” said site manager Mike Nelson.
“There is no place to go for (their) older homes. Most of these people, quite frankly, will end up leaving their home behind for a bulldozer because, quite frankly, they have no choice.”
There’s no excuse for this travesty to have dragged on. Action was long overdue.
“I’m pissed off,” said John Gillander, who has lived at the park since 1998 and recently bought a $104,000 mobile home after his original home burned down last year. “I’ve been here for so long,” said the 80-year-old. “I like it here. I’ve probably put in $50,000 into this place.”
Gillander is one of the lucky ones. His new home will be accepted in other mobile home parks in Central Alberta.
But Ryan Clouston, 32, having recently paid off his trailer after six years, isn’t so lucky. His is an older home that doesn’t meet the standards at newer mobile home parks. It’s destined for the bulldozer.
“I’m pretty upset,” said Clouston. “I’m not sure what I am going to do.”
Bresciani charges $470 per month ($30 more if you’re late) per 72 units. That amounts to close to $34,000 a month in income, or $406,000 a year. Over five years, that’s more than $2 million, a great portion of which could have been used to repair substandard services at the site.
Bresciani allowed this mess to occur and should be required to compensate his tenants for their losses. He failed to provide basic services over the long term, and his inaction now means dozens of people will be forced to move.
Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.