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Neighbor of condemned building wants displaced resident off property

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PARRY SOUND, ON – Public defecation isn’t something anyone wants to see but Patricia Aijo and her grandkids have to worry about witnessing it when they look out their window.

Aijo lives beside 21 River Street, which provided temporary housing for the homeless. A fire during a storm in September condemned the building, so all the occupants had to leave.

According to Aijo, one person stuck around and is now living out of his truck on the property.

“The other morning my granddaughter, Hope, looked through her bedroom window, which looks right into their backyard, and saw this man get out of his truck, drop his pants and do number one and number two,” Aijo said.

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The 72-year-old added she has asked the town multiple times to come and check on the man.

“It’s going to be cold enough soon that maybe they are just waiting to one day open the truck door and he will be frozen to death,” Aijo said.  “He has no cooking supplies or laundry facilities. He is just living in his truck.”

Aijo said she has contacted everyone she can about the situation. She was specifically frustrated with the town’s by-law officer not returning her calls.

“I left her a detailed message telling her how important this was because I am starting to feel unsafe in my own home,” Aijo said.

The grandmother said she also called the police, who said it was out of their jurisdiction.

“If that’s not against the law, then what is?” Aijo said. “How can a man get out [of his truck] and do his business in a backyard in a residential area? Nobody is doing anything. Nobody is returning my phone calls or getting him out of there. I don’t know what to do.”

MyParrySoundNow.com spoke with the Parry Sound Ontario Provincial Police. Officers said they can’t deny that she didn’t contact them, but confirmed no official report was submitted regarding public defecation at 21 River Street. As for it not being the OPP’s jurisdiction, officers said this is technically a by-law matter.

Police added there was a discussion about putting portable toilets up on the property. Officers said the by-law office shut down the idea because police weren’t going to allow tents and temporary shelters to go up in the backyard, which would have been required to allow the portable washrooms.

According to Dave Thompson, the chief of the Parry Sound Fire Department, the town is working with social services to find a home for the man.

“We have been talking to him about his need to not be living in a vehicle,” Thompson said. “However, we are also trying to a level of compassion for the situation he has been put in. It is a bit of a balancing game to try and find the best results for everyone.”

The fire chief said the building is currently being worked on and is heading towards being livable again. Thompson couldn’t say how long it will take.

“So much is dependant on contractors and when they will be able to get in,” Thompson added. ” We have been expediting building permits to get the necessary repairs done so the people can get back into the building.”

According to the fire chief, the building needs to get back up to code before anyone is allowed back in to live in it.

MyMuskokaNow.com wasn’t able to contact Smith for comment, but Aijo said she did a couple of weeks ago. According to the neighbour, Smith said the man would be staying on the lot for “an extended period of time.”

Police confirmed the man continuously refuses housing from Social Services and they are working on trying to convince him to leave. According to officers, the organization currently has a place for Steinebach to go. Police add it is sometimes tough for people with mental illness to leave the place they believe is home.

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