Nova Scotia

Self-confessed hoarder faces demolishment of North Sydney home

Sylvia Dolomont has 30 days to clean up her North Sydney house or the municipality will tear it down.

Campbell Street house full of mould, rotting garbage and animal waste, says municipality

Sylvia Dolomont's house on Campbell Street in North Sydney will be demolished in 30 days if she doesn't clean it out completely. (Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith/CBC)

Sylvia Dolomont's Cape Breton house is stuffed to the rafters with furniture, clothing and household items.

But the municipality says the unassuming bungalow is also chock-full of rotting garbage, animal waste and mould — so much so that it's been declared a hazard.

Now the woman — an admitted hoarder — is fighting to save the structure from demolition.

"I think it's terrible," Dolomont, of North Sydney, said following a municipal council meeting Monday.

"The house is appraised at about $186,000 and they are going to demolish it?"

'Everything under the sun'

Dolomont, who is in her 70s, does not live in the house in question — she lives in another home in the community. She describes herself as a shopaholic and said she's amassed "everything under the sun."

"It's like going into Home Depot," she said. 

From the outside, the mauve bungalow looks pretty much like any other dwelling in the neighbourhood.

But the Cape Breton Regional Municipality says it's been labelled a health, safety and fire hazard.

The building is also rotting and has been declared structurally unsound.

The municipality has issued a demolition order that gives Dolomont 30 days to completely clean out the house or it will be razed.

Dolomont, a widow, told council she will sue if her house is torn down.

Cheaper to demolish 

Paul Burt, manager of the municipality's building and planning department, told council his department has been dealing with complaints about the house since 2008.

Inspectors who last visited the dwelling had to suit up with respirators, he said.

"The only way to deal with this property, once and for all, is to have the building demolished," he said.

Dolomont said she has tried unsuccessfully over the years to clean up the Campbell Street property.

Sylvia Dolomont says there's no reason for the municipality to demolish her bungalow. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)

But, she said, the people she hired took "good stuff and left the garbage."

Now she said she'll have to try to find other people to help her pack up what's worth keeping and put it in storage containers.

It isn't economically feasible for the municipality to take on the job, Burt said.

It would have to hire an environmental consultant and an environmental remediation company at a cost of $30,000 to $40,000, he said. 

"A normal demolition would cost a couple of thousand dollars."

Neighbours complain about smell

The state of the house has been a concern for neighbours.

North Sydney councillor Earlene MacMullin said it was the number one issue when she campaigned on the street last year.

She said people complained about an odour coming from the house and the dangers it posed.

"At one point, neighbours had to watch their children because of the raccoons," MacMullin said. 

"It is a fire risk, it is a health hazard. What if one of the children do get in and fall into something? What if the building does catch on fire?"

Dolomont said her house has been targeted by thieves who've stolen everything from jewelry to "a fireplace still in the package from Rahey's."