HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS..
For most of the past year, David and Shelly Burman have been worrying that they would be homeless by the time the snow fell. Their trailer home on Cedar Shores was deemed in violation of the Building Code by the Town of Bracebridge, but the couple say their health and poor finances have made that a challenge. They did, however, get some reprieve in early November, when they found a home with a landlord who read about their predicament in the Bracebridge Examiner. (Photo by Louis Tam)
BRACEBRIDGE - Though their housing troubles are far from over, the generosity of one Bracebridge landlord has given a Bracebridge couple a warm home for the holidays.
For the past year, David and Shelly Burman have been wrestling with the Town of Bracebridge over the future of their trailer home on Cedar Shores, a private road that runs off Cedar Farm Lane. Citing concerns that it is situated on a flood plain, the town has made repeated demands for the Burmans to vacate and tear down their modified 1,500-square-foot trailer, and have taken the retirees to court over a number of building code violations.
With David suffering from leukemia and Shelly suffering from depression, the couple survives on total disability payments of just $1,700 a month, and has told the town they don’t have the physical or financial ability to tear their home down before next summer.
The town’s demands left the couple worried they would be homeless by the time the snow fell.
However, that weight has since been taken off their shoulders by a Springdale Park landlord who spotted their story in the Bracebridge Examiner.
“Over the summertime she read it, and I found the place and I told her about what was going on and she decided to help us out,” said Shelly. “It’s an affordable price … she brought it down to make it affordable for us.”
The landlord, who turned down a request to be interviewed by this newspaper, welcomed the Burmans into a bungalow in the quiet subdivision on Nov. 1. Similar in size to their trailer, their new place is only a 10-minute drive from their previous home, but already the Burmans say it’s made a world of a difference.
“It’s on a plowed road, there’s garbage pickup and mail delivery is just down the road,” said Shelly.
By contrast, the couple had to personally plow the long, winding, unmaintained road to their Cedar Shores residence, which made mail service and garbage collection accessible only by a long drive.
“We’re off the river, so it’s warmer, it really was pretty cool for our old bones there,” David said of their previous home.
Their legal troubles with the town, however, have not yet been resolved. On Nov. 20, a Bracebridge court set a trial date early in the new year for their building code violations. The Burmans have complied with most of the town’s demands by taking down a number of other non-compliant structures on their Cedar Shores property, which include three smaller trailers and two guest cabins.
“We worked the whole summer, and I would say we’ll work the next summer,” said David.
At press time, only a shed and their trailer remain on the property.
“It’s not just all there in a pile, everything’s moved and cleaned up,” said David.
But the onset of colder weather makes the task of tearing down the remaining structures on Cedar Shores impossible, said the couple.
In a letter the couple received shortly after they moved to Springdale Park, Bracebridge building inspector David Demerling sympathized with the Burmans’ financial and health challenges but also re-emphasized the need to have their trailer demolished.
Most of the other property owners affected by the town crackdown are seasonal residents and have complied with the town’s demands.
Though a trial date has been set, Demerling has offered to help the Burmans resolve the issue before then. In his letter to the couple, Demerling said he has contacted a scrap removal service in Port Sydney and the Gravenhurst Habitat for Humanity, who can potentially help the Burmans tear down their trailer and remove any salvageable fixtures within for free.
It has not yet been determined whether the scrap removal service can safely tow away their trailer, and the Burmans have expressed some reservations about having fixtures like sinks, toilet and their hot water tank hauled away by Habitat for Humanity.
“We can sell them, they’re all brand new,” said David. “Our pump was $600, and the bathroom was all brand new – the shower, the toilet, the sink.”
In total they estimate they could get a few thousand dollars back by selling off their fixtures instead of giving them away.
The Burmans are due to reappear in Bracebridge court on Jan. 15.