Aurel Vasile has been displaced from his Comox home because of a fire. Scott Stanfield photo

Displaced Comox senior worries he’s on street permanently

Aurel Vasile has to find another home during renovations

An elderly man has been displaced from his Comox home because of a fire. He says he has been evicted — but not according to the landlord.

For the past eight years, 76-year-old Aurel Vasile has lived at the d’Esterre Gardens seniors complex. This spring, a fire broke out in the kitchen. Due to issues with asbestos, and the amount of maintenance required, Vasile cannot remain at his suite during the repair process, estimated at about a month. The bailiff was at the premises on Tuesday while workers removed all items from the suite.

Vasile, who hails from Romania, was teaching design engineering at a school in Ontario before moving west.

“I’ve been trying to do whatever I can for the people,” he said. “I’m here now, and they throw me out like a dog. I’m not a dog.”

“He thought he would die here, not on the street,” said Vasile’s ex-wife Nina, with whom he remains friends. “We work like crazy in Canada, and you see what happens. We pay taxes for this government. What do they do for us? Nothing.”

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard is aware of the situation.

“I understand the situation is upsetting, especially to the parties involved,” Leonard said in a statement. “My office has worked with Mr. Vasile for some time, however, due to confidentiality, I cannot comment on any specifics.”

Nina lives in Vancouver with her son and daughter-in-law. She says there is not enough room to house Aurel during renovations.

Aurel, who does not have tenant insurance, is worried that he’s going to be living on the street permanently. He says the landlord has indicated he will be allowed back into his suite after renovations, but Aurel would like it in writing.

The property manager, Ann Janssen, said a number of local agencies offered to help Aurel during renovations. One of the organizations had some accommodation options, but she said he refused help, wanting only to remain in his suite.

“The last thing I want to do is put a man out on the streets,” Janssen told media. “He could have had this place fixed, he could have been back in his home, and he could have been happy by now.”

Aurel appealed to the Residential Tenancy Branch, but an arbitrator ruled against him.

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