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The Black, Moldy Side of Atlantic Living

Basterache evicted, Jackson Road basement boarded, ACORN rallies.

by Miles Howe

Evan Coole of ACORN Canada and Jessica Basterache, outside Atlantic Living's Dartmouth office. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Evan Coole of ACORN Canada and Jessica Basterache, outside Atlantic Living's Dartmouth office. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Dartmouth, NS – It's been an interesting few days for Jessica Basterache.

Last Thursday, the Halifax Media Co-op was invited to report on the slum-style conditions of the basement floor of the low-rise on Jackson Road in North Dartmouth, where Basterache was living.

Her apartment, as well as several other vacant, unlocked units, had serious black mold issues, which is extremely dangerous to human health. There was also serious cosmetic damage to the basement hallway, with holes punched and kicked in the drywall. There was no lock on the back door of the building entrance, and the hallway was missing fire extinguishers.

Prior to the article being published, the HMC attempted unsuccessfully to contact Atlantic Living Property Management, the new owners of the Jackson Road low-rise, and numerous other investments in the area and beyond.

Last Friday, however, after publishing the article, we received a telephone call from Peter Johnson, president of Atlantic Living. In the conversation, Johnson noted that he had “video evidence” of Basterache causing the damage to the hallway, and that she had been issued a notice to vacate the premise by the morning of Dec. 5.

Subsequent close inspection of the hallway did not reveal the presence of any video surveillance equipment, and while Johnson initially invited the HMC to view said video evidence at the main office of Atlantic Living, he refused to procure it when we met in person.

As for Basterache, she was indeed issued a notice to vacate her apartment, but it does not appear that the eviction notice is actually at all related to Johnson's allegations that she was cause of the hallway vandalism. Instead, it seems as though the eviction is related to the fact that Basterache failed to pay rent in October or November.

But this failure to pay rent, according to Basterache, is due to a complication with her caseworker.

“They’re saying I didn’t pay my rent for October and November. That doesn’t make any sense, my caseworker takes care of that for me,” said Basterache in an ACORN Canada press release.

The timing of the non-payment of rent, and the eviction, when considered in relation to Basterache's public complaints against hers and others' living conditions, is suspicious; more so because Basterache should have had the opportunity to attend a Residential Tenancies hearing on the matter. Basterache says she was never even informed of the hearing.

“Is this because I complained?” said Basterache. “I didn’t get notice of a Residential Tenancies hearing and they haven’t said anything about not getting the rent for those months before now.”

With some degree of publicity now focused on the Jackson Road building, Atlantic Living has been performing emergency cosmetic surgery on the basement floor of the low-rise. As of press time, renovation crews were boarding up all but Basterache's basement windows with sheets of plywood. The previously observed gaping holes in the hallway were also boarded up.

The extensive black mold problems, however, was still unaddressed. The effects of extended exposure to black mold can include respiratory, circulatory and neurological symptoms, among others.

ACORN Canada, a national organization that organizes low and moderate income individuals across the country — and is looking to establish a new Halifax chapter — reacted quickly to Basterache's eviction notice.

An emergency rally outside of Atlantic Living's main office on Primrose Street, only steps away from the Jackson street low-rise, was organized, and drew North Dartmouth residents and their allies.

Some had been dealing for years with a revolving door of slumlords in the area, and had only seen their situations become more tenuous under the current NDP provincial government.

“Since [the removal of] rental control [slumlords] can come in now, and what's going to stop them from raising the rents astronomically?” said Mary-Ann Walker, a North Dartmouth resident and long-time housing activist. “It's called genocide. They want to put us all out onto the street because we can't afford [rent]. Cosmetic surgery isn't going to bring these buildings up to code in any way, shape or form.”

Fortunately for Basterache, she had no problem marshaling an amateur moving crew from the numerous able-bodied protestors who had gathered to show their solidarity, and assist how they could. It can thankfully be reported that she has found a storage locker and temporary lodgings.

Addressing the larger issue of affordable, livable housing, in North Dartmouth and beyond, however, remains for the meantime unaddressed.

“I'm royally ticked,” said Walker. “And I'm not scared of Daniel Drimmer [notorious North Dartmouth developer] and all his lackeys. I don't care who owns these buildings; they're accountable. But number one? Our premier. Our municipal government. They're accountable. They're the ones that put the acts in, put the rules in. And what do they do? They don't enforce it. Nothing is enforced. Would this happen on Baker drive in a high-end residential? Would this happen? If you were paying $1600 a month, would that happen? Why should it happen to our most vulnerable citizens? It shouldn't be. It's ludicrous. It's genocide. This is ghetto-ization.”


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Comments

The Black, Moldy Side Of Atlantic Living

In the third paragraph of your article, The Black Moldy Side Of Atlantic Living, you state that there are no fire extinguishers in the hallways of 7 Jackson Rd.

Had you done your research you would have discovered that this is because each tenant has (and is responsible for maintaining) his or her own fire extinguisher in their apartment. By law, fire extinguishers must be present either in the hallways OR in the tenants apartments, not both.

What you are trying to do here is commendable but unless your facts are straight, you cannot and will not be taken seriously. I hope that you remember this the next time you write an article to help those of us who could really use some help.

Good Luck.

As for fire extinguishers

As for fire extinguishers missing from the hallways of the basement of 7 Jackson Rd., there are open cabinets for fire extinguishers in the basement hallway that are empty, which suggested that there should have been fire extinguishers there. We found the two missing hallway fire extinguishers emptied of their contents in a vacant apartment. So, I'm going to stand by the description of the basement hallway.

I'm interested as to whether you truly consider that the description of whether or not there were fire extinguishers in the basement hallway is actually the crux of the article. Is it the credibility upon which this entire piece hinges, as you suggest?

I would encourage you to check out a number of HRM and Nova Scotia by-laws, including Fire Safety and Building Code. How about starting with by-law M-100?

https://www.halifax.ca/legislation/bylaws/hrm/documents/By-LawM-100.pdf

You might find numerous by-law infractions not even mentioned in this piece, that you could then share with all of us!

Please consider becoming a member of the Halifax Media Co-op. It is free to sign up, and then you too can post articles and stories, not including descriptions of missing fire extinguishers, that would definitely be more reflective of what you would like to see written here.

 

Fire Extinguishers

I in no way meant to discredit your article. Quite the contrary, as a resident of 7 Jackson Rd., I'm glad you wrote it. I just realize that as a poor person, struggling to survive in the North End of Dartmouth, we have enough people who refuse to take us seriously for various reasons. I simply didn't want to give anyone more ammunition to discredit someone trying to help the people of the North End by anything that could be construed as inaccurate reporting.

You have no idea what a trial it was to get those extinguishers in this building. I do, I was instrumental in doing so. When they were in the hallways, they were being stolen and set off in the hallways so that the residents of the building had to vacate in the middle of the night while the building was cleaned. As a result, I find this new change a change for the better.

I really do appreciate your article. I simply wanted it on record that fire extinguishers do in fact exist in the building (and hopefully other tenants are respecting them and keeping them in good repair) so that perhaps we could all move on to any one of the other problems this building and surrounding area has.

Thanks.

Jackson road

   I agree with the above comments completely and would like to add that using terms such as "genocide" when refferring to slumlords is a stretch as far as I'm concerned.

 This article lost a lot of validity when I read that.

 I would appreciate it if you would be sure that Ms. Walker gets this definition of genocide.

 From The Houghton Mifflin Canadian Dictionary:

genocide - The systematic, planned annihilation of a racial, political or cultural group.

  Although I agree that living conditions there are definately NOT up to the standards we as Canadians should have, it is definately not genocide.

 Hitler was genocidal.....

 Please be a bit more careful in future articles, what you are trying to do is good, please do it right. In todays world, public opinon means everything and misinformation can damage a good cause as easily as it can ruin the reputation of a public figure.

 

Thanks for your comment. Part

Thanks for your comment.

Part of the exciting world of journalism is that you can actually quote people saying things that are their opinion, and the entire article doesn't necessarily need to lose credibility because you did so.

So, in Ms. Walker's opinion, raising rents on some of the cheapest of buildings in the HRM, which already violate numerous municipal by-laws (which she has had no luck having anyone enforce), to the extent that the city's poor can no longer live there constitutes genocide. There's no rent control, I defy you to live outside in the city, living conditions such as the ones in the basement of Jackson Rd. are not even liveable, and I would say are extremely detrimental to your health. Landlords are unresponsive, the city is unresponsive, so I can empathize with Ms. Walker when she says it is a planned annihilation. Definitely not to the extent of Hitler, but nor did anyone imply that.

Anyways, again. When people say things, you can certainly disagree with their opinions. Having them say these things, or having an acurate description of a basement hallway missing fire extinguishers (where there were places for fire extinguishers, that were later found emptied in a vacant apartment) that you've probably never gone into, does not necessarily lead to an immediate discrediting of an article.

Good luck.

Rental Protection Agency

Eviction notice is given to a tenant by the landowner in order to remove the tenant from his/her property. Eviction has legal validity, and the landowner has the right to go ahead with certain actions that are required to evict the tenant legally. Landowner should not use physical force against a tenant for removing the personal belongings.

Rental Protection Agency

So sad hearing about this.

So sad hearing about this. Every facilities should have its own safety equipment. Loosing fire extinguishers is already a worst thing.

Parker,

Fire Training Structures

Going through the same situation

If only I would have stumbled upon this article two months ago. My boyfriend and I moved into a building owned by Atlantic Living in Sydney in October. We were apartment hunting for the first time and the building and lay out of the apartment looked great. However, we started experiencing some hiccups not long after we moved in. Our plumbing was off so we alerted our building manager. We didn't realize that he had to get permission from the Dartmouth office in order to help us... And that permission never came. Just recently, we found black mould in our bedroom. It would appear that the foundation may be leaking so we immediately alerted our building manager again. He said the only thing he could do -- if he was given permission -- would be to have us move into another unit until someone fixed the structural issues and cleaned the mould. Apparently this problem came up not too long ago and it was six months before anything was really done. We complained a week ago ... And heard nothing. In fact, the unit that we were supposed to move into was being shown to possible new tenants during the week. Enough was enough. Luckily, we have the means to find a better quality apartment and we did just that. Now we face a possible rent dispute because we didn't give a months notice. Keep the deposit ... I just want to wash my hands of this mess. I would never recommend doing business with Atlantic Living to anyone and it angers me that people are FORCED to deal with it because of their financial situation. No one deserves to live like that.

If you pay a company for a service, you are a client. Every client should be treated with respect regardless of their situation.

MICE-81 LAKECREST

me, my boyfriend, and our two 2 year old children moved in to 81 lakecrest apartment 513 on september 3rd 2013.

september 5th we sat down to watch a movie, and seen a mouse.

september 11th we called ATLANTIC LIVING PROPERTIES, and didnt get an answer so we left a detailed message explaining we have seen a few mice since we moved in, and our two kids just so happened to have been sick ever since we moved in.

we didnt get a call back.

september 16 we seen the superintenant for our building and also then explained the mice situation and mentioned how we called and left a message and didnt recieve a phone call back. the superintenant said that they had just found out about the mice and they were going to provide spray foam and steel wool for US to put in our pipes and walls,and they just called exterminator(he claimed) and they were going to be in next week.

not only did he LIE about just finding out about the mice(there was spray foam in our pipes when we first moved in), but he also lied about calling the exterminator AND about supplying us with spray foam and steel wool! he didnt follow up with that(not that its our responsability to do any of it)

so, like i said, the exterminator didnt come the following week. we went another month without speaking about it, hoping the exterminator would show up.

october 29 we called ATLANTIC LIVING PROPERTIES again, and REMINDED them that there were MICE IN OUR APARTMENT, AND WORSE THEN EVER, they woke us up through the night, we then seen them ALOT more. we seen two or three mice a NIGHT while we sat and watched movies. they tore our garbages apart. theve ran across our childrens rooms while they were sleeping (we have seen them!) and during the day as well. we have woken up from them in our walls, and running through our heaters, we were up all night a few times tossing in our bed because they were in our dressers......not only our CLOTHES dresser but it was our UNDERWEAR dresser. we layed in our bed countless times and just watched two or three walk around our room...yes...not just one...but two or three! this place was infested with mice. the women we called said it was too late to call the exterminator at this moment in time(4:37pm) so they would give us a call first thing in the morning and let us know when they are going to show up............we didnt recieve a call back then either.....and no exterminator.

november 7th we finally just contacted the tenacy board and let them know we are leaving, and this is why.

november 20th we found a dead mouse in my daughters closet. just a short hour after both kids were playing hide and seek in that same closet.

it was honest to god, horrible. our children play all over the floor. it was scary knowing mcie are dirty little creatures and atlantic living didnt care at all about our kids. 

just thought id share OUR story about ATLANTIC LIVING as well. i will never in my life time rent from those guys again.

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