Volunteers halt work on replacement home

Construction has ground to a halt on the replacement home for a Rocky Mountain House-area single mother who lost her house in fire.

Connie VanderBaaren tends to her horse Biscuit near her still unfinished new home southeast of Rocky Mountain House.

Connie VanderBaaren tends to her horse Biscuit near her still unfinished new home southeast of Rocky Mountain House.

Construction has ground to a halt on the replacement home for a Rocky Mountain House-area single mother who lost her house in fire.

Just days after the November 2010 fire that left Connie VanderBaaren, 50, and seven of her nine children homeless, the community rallied to help.

Because VanderBaaren did not have house insurance, homebuilder and friend Scott Collinson volunteered to build a new home on her 10-acre property.

About $200,000 through gifts in kind, labour and community fundraisers was raised to build the home.

Two bank accounts were set up for the family — one for building and another for the family’s immediate needs.

VanderBaaren and her children temporarily moved into a mobile home on Collinson’s property.

Collinson said on Monday he stopped working on the project last August because VanderBaaren took over the project herself.

The 1,500-square-foot home, located about five km southeast of Rocky, was left framed with some plumbing and some electrical work completed.

“She wanted to make changes to the house which would have fallen onto our expense,” said Collinson.

“We weren’t willing to afford those changes to what was already settled on for her home.”

VanderBaaren said she felt there was no communication about the progress on the house.

VanderBaaren said she was unhappy so she decided to “dis-entangle” herself from the project. She has since moved into other buildings on her property where she lives with eight of her children who range in ages from 10 to 20. Her eldest child, who is 24, does not live on the property.

“I wasn’t happy with the way things are going,” said VanderBaaren.

“I just left it not knowing what was going to happen. I figured if there were still people out there who wanted to help maybe they would show up. If not, I am not sure what I would do.”

VanderBaaren said the building fund account has been exhausted. She used the remaining funds to do what work she could by herself.

“I spent it. I turned in receipts and that money is all gone. I’ve done as much as I can to the point where it is at.”

VanderBaaren said she understands it’s a touchy situation because a lot of people donated time and money to the project.

While she does have odd jobs, VanderBaaren said she does not have the money nor the skills to finish the work herself. VanderBaaren said she is very appreciative of the community’s support but she is hesitant to ask the community to donate supplies or their time again.

“I’m afraid it is all going to be for naught if it isn’t finished,” said VanderBaaren. “And I’m stuck. I don’t have the resources to finish it myself.”

VanderBaaren works part time and does not receive social assistance.

In Clearwater County, homebuilders have on average a one-year development permit, and another year to build the home. Builders can usually ask for an extension if they exceed the two-year timeframe. There are no penalties unless someone submits a complaint to the county.

Anyone who wants to help can contact VanderBaaren at 403-844-2750.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

With a ban on sit-in dining set to begin at noon Friday, Las Palmeras owner Andre Lemus is gearing up for more takeout and delivery business. He has also applied to set up and outdoor patio, where dining is allowed under new restrictions, and is selling his own branded seasonings, salsa, guacamole, tequila bags, margerita kits, and even aprons like the one he is wearing.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Big interest in outdoor patios in Red Deer as sit-down dining banned again

City of Red Deer has tweaked its patio regulations to make it easier to get a permit

A sustainability audit for Westerner Park suggested 33 changes, including more city involvement. (Advocate file photo)
Westerner Park expands volunteer program

Westerner Park is recruiting volunteers to fill several positions. The new Volunteer… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Appeal Court restores privileges for man who killed five at Calgary house party

EDMONTON — The Alberta Court of Appeal has restored some privileges for… Continue reading

A 19-day trial has been set for June 2022 for Chase Freed, who is accused of shooting to death a shopper outside the southside Red Deer Walmart and firing shots at two other people in the parking lot. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man accused of killing a shopper outside Red Deer Walmart in December 2019 to go to trial in 2022

Chase Freed charged with second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
All adult Albertans to be offered first dose of vaccine by end of June: Premier

Alberta’s premier says the province will be “back to normal” when 72… Continue reading

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Huawei, HSBC agree on document deal for extradition case

HONG KONG — Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei said Monday that it… Continue reading

Most Read