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Stephenville mayor evicted from off-the-grid home after council vote

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The mayor of Stephenville and his wife have been ordered to get out of their house, after the council declared their off-the-grid home contravened town rules.

The Roses received a cease-and-desist order this week — demanding they stop using their property for residential purposes — after council voted in favour of it at a meeting last week.

“I’m dumbfounded,” Joanne Rose told CBC News.

“I have no idea why it would it come up now.”

Joanne Rose is speaking out instead of her husband, who feels he is in a conflict of interest because of his position as mayor.

Joanne Rose says she filed all the proper paperwork with the town to live in her accessory dwelling on her farm property in Stephenville. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

The couple live in a one-level farmhouse on Hillier Avenue, on a 48-acre property.

The structure has a large living room, kitchen and dining area, complete with wood stove and solar panels on the roof. They use their own septic system and well as a water source.

The structure is mostly built with reclaimed lumber, and the Roses have called it home since late November 2018.

The couple built the structure in the summer of 2017, and applied for permits to have it deemed an accessory building, which they would use as a garage that could store work benches, saws and lumber.

Joanne Rose is retired and spends some of her time crocheting at her new farmhouse in Stephenville. (Colleen Connors/cbc )

A year later, in the summer of 2018, Joanne Rose thought maybe she and Tom could turn the place into a farmhouse and live in it permanently.

Town rules, specifically section 34 of the 2014 development regulations, state that an accessory building can be used as “a farmer’s dwelling, caretaker’s dwelling or a residence associated with an educational or medical facility.”

Rose said she spoke with a municipal development officer and filled out the proper permits and forms to have it deemed a home. She said those permits were approved.

“As far as I was concerned, I clearly stated what my objective was. I had done exactly what they told me to do, and it came back approved,” she said in an interview.

“We followed the protocol as advised.”

Complaint to council

But the couple was told they couldn’t live there after the town received a complaint on Jan. 16 from Shawn Boyd, a developer in the area.

In a letter to the town council, Boyd said the Rose family was illegally living in accessory buildings, not homes, on their farmland and they were violating the town’s municipal plan and regulations.

Susan Fowlow is the deputy mayor of Stephenville. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

“It is common knowledge that rather than build two accessory buildings in accordance with the permits granted, the mayor built two homes which are occupied in an area [in which] homes are not permitted under the town’s current municipal plan and regulations,” reads Boyd’s letter.

Boyd claimed Steven Rose, Tom and Joanne’s son, was living in a barn in the area. They dispute that, saying their son lives away.

Boyd argues the Rose family found a loophole in the regulations to live in accessory buildings.

And, he argued, if he wants to build homes within the town limits of Stephenville, he has to pay full costs for roads, and water and sewer services, while the Roses do not.

Rose said she is at a loss to explain why Boyd would file the complaint and says she has no issue with the man.

“We have no issue with Shawn personally. What motivated him to do this, I have no idea,” said Joanne.

‘Awkward’ situation: deputy mayor

When the town received Boyd’s complaint, staff acted immediately by contacting Municipal Affairs.

Lawyers investigated all permits received by the town for this particular dwelling and ruled the Rose family were living there illegally.

Absolutely not, argues Joanne. She says each permit she applied for was done, and approved, according to the rules.

But Susan Fowlow, deputy mayor of Stephenville, said that’s open for interpretation.

Town council voted to issue the eviction order to the Roses after a business developer complained that the family was living in the dwelling illegally. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

“If you look at each of those permits step-by-step, as a lawyer did, there seems to be a jump from an accessory building, which says garage, to this farmer’s dwelling,” she said.

“They moved from the decision to change their garage to a farmer’s dwelling and followed the orders that they were given. That didn’t involve any more information coming to us, or another permit application. And so, we approved permits in isolation of what was happening.”

Any time the advice you’re given is to evict somebody, that’s a difficult process. Nobody wants to do it.– Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow

Fowlow said sending an eviction notice to anyone in the town, especially the mayor and his wife, is very difficult, but the town is simply following protocol.

“I don’t know if it’s more difficult because it’s the mayor. It’s more awkward,” she said. “Any time the advice you’re given is to evict somebody, that’s a difficult process. Nobody wants to do it.”

Joanne Rose has met privately with some of the council members since being issued the order. The entire council will meet before the end of the week to discuss the next steps, including the possibility of rescinding the cease-and-desist order.

Joanne said she and Tom have no choice but to appeal.

“This is where I would like to spend my retirement. This is where my husband would like to spend his time when he retires.

“This is on the property we use for farming and we are very actively farming it. This is where I want to be and I thought I asked all the right permits to be here.” 

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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