VAUDREUIL-DORION – In the wake of backlash from its residents, the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion seems to be backing off plans to demolish a hand-built home in which an elderly man lives.
“We understand Mr. Mortensen wants to live in this thing and we can accommodate,” Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said on Wednesday.
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Last week, Peder Mortensen learned the city was seeking a court injunction to evict him, demolish his house and send him to an old age home.
At the time, city officials said the home was deemed unsafe by the fire department.
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After the story became public, the mayor received hundreds of complaints over the controversial plan and residents delivered a petition to city hall featuring over 1,500 signatures from people demanding the city leave the elderly resident alone.
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“I didn’t know I had so many friends around my neighbourhood,” said Mortensen, who first moved to Vaudreuil-Dorion in 1962.
“I’m a solitary person so that’s one good thing that came out of it.”
“We’re not going to let it happen – it just doesn’t make any sense – he needs to live in this house,” said Mortensen’s neighbour, Charlie Berkovits.
Peder Mortensen in his home, Wednessday, May 25, 2016.
Anne Leclair/Global News
On Wednesday, the mayor said he has received a death threat over the issue.
“The SQ have that death threat,” Pilon said.
“Someone said they’re going to kill me and put [me in a] cement block in the river.”
The mayor also said the court injunction was never intended to force Mortensen out, but rather to ensure the next person living on the property would build a home that respects the building code.
READ MORE: Community rallies behind Vaudreuil senior facing eviction
The city is now working with a group of residents who have agreed to help fix a long list of items considered to be a fire hazard.
“We’ve agreed to work together,” Pilon said.
“We will have a meeting with them, telling them what we want and what we would like to see.”
Still, Mortensen feels the city should focus on more important issues such as fixing the drinking water problem.
“We’ve had a boil water advisory for three and a half years,” he said, while showing off a contraption he’s made to distil his drinking water.
“I make distilled water that’s the purest water you could make.”
While it has been a stressful week for the Vaudreuil-Dorion resident, Mortensen said he’ll sleep well knowing that his community supports what he says is his unique and harmless way of life.
“I feel good,” he said.