It’s been nearly four weeks since a contractor accidentally knocked out power to a Surrey trailer park and longtime resident Stephen Chalmers says every day is more miserable than the last.
Chalmers says trying to survive the chilly fall nights in his leaky 1989 trailer has pushed him from a fragile state of mental health into a deep depression.
“I phoned my sister yesterday and I told my sister that I didn’t know if I could continue,” he said on Wednesday, choking on tears.
“My family don’t quit, but I’m ready to quit. I don’t have money. I don’t have a roof or a place because this hunk of junk.”
Surrey-Green Timbers NDP MLA Sue Hammell toured the Beladean Motel and Trailer Park at 8205 King George Blvd. twice this week and said the conditions are heartbreaking.
Not only is the power out, with unreliable generator service being provided to the seven or so residents who still live there, but someone has cut the phone lines, as well as a water pipe.
“The pipe that delivered their water was cut, and it did not appear to be cut by the excavation, it appeared to be cut by other people, scroungers probably trying to get metal or cable,” Hammell said.
“[The tenants] fixed the water themselves. They reattached the hose and got the water back, but what is not back is the cable or the phone.”
A WorkSafeBC investigation found that the owner, K.B. Properties, failed to hire a health and safety coordinator for the demolition of the motel, resulting in unsafe asbestos removal as well as the power outage.
Jas Rehal, the city’s manager of bylaw enforcement, said the city has had to issue three orders to the owner to restore power after the company brought in insufficient generators and gas.
As of Thursday the property was listed online as vacant land for sale for $3.9 million, despite the fact that several people still live there.
Vancouver Eviction Services President Stephano Muzzatti, who was hired by K.B. Properties to evict some of the residents, told Metro he was “irate” when he returned from vacation to find the state the park was in.
On Thursday, he threatened to resign unless the owners provide an industrial generator, as well as a security guard to stop the looters and vandals that torment the tenants day and night.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Roshan Arora, who is the property owner’s brother and representative, said he was out shopping for an industrial generator as requested.
“After a couple of days, things will be OK,” he said, when asked when the power would be restored.
That is no comfort to Chalmers, who is on disability because of various mental health issues and a recovering crack addict who has been clean for five years. His one comfort, his dog, Spaghetti, is staying with a friend because he doesn’t want her to drink the water that leaks from his ceiling.
“I don’t have a way to live a normal life at this point in time. I’ve done everything I can for myself to get better and it makes me feel like I’m an inconsequential piece of garbage that nobody wants to help, and I don’t understand that,” he said.
“I just want a trailer that I can park on a place and pay my rent and have my little dog so I’ve got somebody to love.”
Chalmers’ sister, Marilyn Chase, who used to live at the Beladean Trailer Park, is desperate to get her brother out. She has started a crowdfunding campaign on Vancouver-based website FundRazr with Metro’s assistance.
Most trailer parks won’t accept him as a tenant because his dilapidated trailer is too old and lacks proper certifications, so she is trying to raise $5,000 to get him a used but newer one.