Town moves to halt expansion of Napanee man's trailer village
'Continuing to allow your property to be used as residential accommodation is not an option': legal letter
The Town of Greater Napanee, Ont., is threatening a resident with legal action if he continues to expand an illegal trailer village for homeless people on his property.
Scott Drader, 50, is currently housing about eight people in six trailers on his half-hectare property in the town's industrial outskirts. A seventh trailer fit for use in the winter months is arriving later Friday, he said, and he's in the process of making some of the other trailers habitable in cold weather.
Drader had earlier told CBC News he planned to buy about two new trailers each month with some of the rent from his tenants. He's been purchasing the trailers through the buy and sell website Kijiji.
Reached by phone Friday, Drader was vague about his intentions going forward.
"Right now I have no further plans. I'm out of money," he said.
Asked specifically if he would stop buying trailers, he replied, "I'm not saying that. I'm going to talk to some legal counsel to find out what their interpretation of this is.... Right now I'm in the land of confusion. I don't know where to go."
He said he's also been contacting human rights organizations.
Town working on other options
The letter from the town's lawyers, hand-delivered to Drader's home Thursday evening, serves as a formal notice that Drader's trailer park operation violates the town's zoning bylaws.
"You are further directed not to bring any further trailers or other forms of accommodation to the property, nor to allow any additional people to take up temporary or permanent residence," the letter continues, warning the town would seek remedy from the Superior Court of Justice.
"Continuing to allow your property to be used as residential accommodation is not an option. The accommodation being provided is not legal under the zoning bylaw, is not adequate for the needs of the people being housed and poses both short- and long-term safety concerns."
It also says the town is working with various agencies to come up with other living arrangements for Drader's current tenants.
They include a young transgender couple who left home, a family of three, a pregnant woman who's due to give birth next month and two single men.
A fire inspector has been out to make sure the trailers on Drader's property have smoke alarms, and he said he's got $2 million in liability insurance for his own property and $17,000 in coverage for each of his "outbuildings."
But Drader said he got a call from his insurance company after his story made the local news, and is now in the process of upgrading his coverage.
An electrical assessment is expected to happen Friday, and the local health unit is also planning a visit.
Drader charges tenants who receive the Ontario Disability Support Program shelter allowance $450 per month in rent, while tenants on welfare pay $380.
Brandt Zatterberg, the town's general manager of community and corporate services, said Friday that he met with Lennox and Addington County officials Thursday, along with other health and social services stakeholders — the second such meeting in response to Drader's operation.
They'll continue to meet going forward, he said, and the county's social services department is planning to meet with Drader's tenants, and with others experiencing homelessness in the area, to talk about their needs.
Drader has vowed his tenants aren't going anywhere.
"They're not going anyplace. These guys have been here long enough that we all sit around the campfire and sit and talk. We act like family now," he said earlier this week.