Fate of home on hold

A North Shore home scorched by fire four years ago will sit empty for 30 more days after City councillors gave the homeowner a month to complete a home inspection.

If Lynda Watt can't complete the review by Oct. 11, the City will hire an inspector for her and put the bill on her property taxes.

The City informed Watt on Aug. 21 that she had a month to have the home inspected after receiving multiple complaints from neighbours that 356 McGowan Ave. has stood empty since the fire in August 2008.

The house was also deemed in bad shape prior to the blaze.

Watt, with her daughter Sandra Strand standing beside her, appealed to council for an extension until July 2013 as she doesn't have the finances to pay for an inspector.

She's struggled for years to try and repair the home and clean it of the wall-to-wall boxes, mattresses and other collected items inside.

"I'm a hoarder," she told council, explaining the mess. "So are my parents and so is my sister."

She will inherit a sizable sum of cash within the next four weeks to four months, said Watt. The amount - which is in the neighbourhood of $80,000 - would be enough to make the outside of the home presentable and hook up water and power, which will aid in cleaning the interior.

"It's been pending since January 2008," she said, adding she hoped to have word by Wednesday.

Council was sympathetic to Watt, who says she and her daughter have essentially been homeless since the fire and struggle to make ends meet.

Coun. Arjun Singh believes allowing a more than six month extension might give neighbours the impression the house will continue to be a disaster.

"We need to take some sort of action," said Singh.

Watt said her neighbours have been verbally abusive and one even came after her with a tire iron. The police have been called at least three times.

But council needed to act. Councillors kicked around various ideas until Mayor Peter Milobar pointed out that the only deadline Watt faces is getting the home inspection done.

He said Watt can't even proceed with renovations until she knows if the home is habitable.

That's when the new 30-day timeline was established.

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