Citadel family faces series of settlement complaints after house fire
The day before the fire, the Marshes were a family of four – plus their six pets – and all together under one roof.
But then, in the early morning of July 15, a fire broke out in the garage of their Citadel home, and the compromises and tensions of the following months scattered them.
“We had four dogs, a cat and a rabbit,” Robert Marsh laughed.
“Yes, it was a handful and a full house.”
The fire destroyed the attached garage of their Citadel home and cut off the downstairs living space.
The house can be saved, but the expensive renovation has largely reduced the half-timbering.
Unable to find a home for the entire family and their pets, Marsh took a trailer they had purchased in the summer and parked it in the driveway of the vacant home to live with the dogs while his wife and her children were staying at the hotel.
But soon complaints started coming in to the City of Calgary Municipal Police – the motorhome had been parked for over 36 hours, the tongue of the trailer was hanging a little over the driveway, the temporary electrical box in the garage by the insurance company contractor wasn’t exactly up to code, the privacy fence was not properly secured.
Marsh says most neighbors have been very supportive and understanding of the family’s situation, knowing it’s temporary.
But someone called the settlement over and over again, and it upset other neighbors.
“Someone who loses their house to a fire and has to live in a trailer in their driveway during the winter months, people should have absolutely no problem,” said Ranya Assaf, who lives two doors down.
“If you have a problem with that, you just kick someone when they’re low.”
The Marais were forced to relocate two of their dogs.
The cat and rabbit now live with another neighbor in Citadel.
Mom Julia and their 17 year old son are currently at the hotel.
Their teenage daughter attends school out of province.
A month ago, the family asked the city to be excused from the settlement issues on humanitarian grounds, but the city is still considering the request.
A traffic cop was at the home again on Thursday.
“We recognize the impact the fire has had on the family and understand their situation,” the city said in a statement.
“Residents have applied for a Recreational Vehicle Permit, which would allow the RV to remain parked where it is beyond the typical time allowed by our bylaw (the bylaw currently allows RVs to be parked for up to 36 hours).
“However, the city has received a number of complaints from the community, and we are reviewing the issues to ensure that we are balancing compassion for residents with the overall safety of the community, before we can make a decision on the permit. “
The renovations will go ahead once the contractor’s cost estimate and tender is complete – a process required by the family’s insurer.
“We will take care of the family first and foremost,” Marsh said.
“It can always be rebuilt, can’t it? And the community – Citadel – has been fantastic.”