Impending Doom. Homelessness on the Horizon at River Valley Park

River Valley Park

Approximately 30 residents attended a meeting, hosted by Algoma Community Legal Clinic (ACLC) on Wednesday evening at The Delta Waterfront. With homelessness in 7 days as a real deadline – residents of River Valley Park were invited to attend a Community Information Session.

Presentations were made by Wendy Bird (ACLC), Kara Flannigan (Algoma Public Health), Jill Hewgill (ACLC);  MPP Bud Wildman (Algoma – 1975-1999); Kevin Reid (John Howard Society); Joanne Pearson – Tenant Support/Homelessness Coordinator (DSSMSSAB); and Sherry McCarthy (United Way).

Immediately following the first half of the evening which included panelists taking questions from residents, Algoma Community Legal Clinic invited residents to attend a closed door meeting. The closed session offered residents an opportunity to understand and process where they are – insofar as their legal rights are concerned.

Bud Wildman commended the organization for organizing the Community Information Session, and attended on behalf of MPP Michael Mantha, who was in Manitouwadge, advocating for the hospital in that community.

The former MPP for (then) Algoma Riding, brought an entire history lesson of River Valley Park with him. He’s well acquainted with the issues that now seek to implode the lives of almost 40 people. River Valley Park was called by another name not so long ago – Shetland Park.  Today – it is 7 days from a closure order which is to take effect August 31st, 2017.

Kara Flannigan, Public Health Inspector with Algoma Public Health (APH) fielded questions from residents, concerned about the process and August 31st deadline.

Flannigan led residents through a ‘411’ on various processes related to septic systems, explaining that in 2017, current regulations – including those of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change –  play a role in  how and why the septic system at River Valley can’t be simply fixed or amended.

“The whole system needs to be completely replaced.” She said.  “The standards of the 1980’s are not the standards of today. Extra studies are required in today’s regulatory framework.”

Residents are hoping for an extension of the August 31st, 2017 deadline.

Judy Lewis, resident of River Valley Park spoke with Superior Media.

“I am 72 yrs. old and my husband is 80 yrs.” she said.  “We’ve lived in the park for over 21 years. We’re seniors – my neighbor is 94 yrs old. She is the oldest person in the park. I can tell you that we aren’t going anywhere. In fact, there really isn’t anywhere to go.”

The video below is a snapshot of the first half of the Community Information Session. No representative from The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change was in attendance.

An oral hearing was held on August 10, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario. The hearing was before the provincial Health Services Appeal and Review Board.


Kara Flannigan (APH), Kira Fry (Ministry of Environment and Climate Change or MOECC) and Jonathon Boumo (APH) testified for the Respondent.

On August 16, 2017, The Appeal Board upheld the Order, dated June 8, 2017, made by Kara Flannigan, Algoma Public Health.

Hard Copies of the Health Services Appeal and Review Board decision were made available to residents in attendance on Wednesday evening. To read online go here:

APH Inspection Reports are posted publically here:



  1. In this day and age of compromise and negotiation…there has to be something in place to spare disrupting the lives of so many that depend on this park. Perhaps it is time for Mr Sheehan to come forward with some federal money that can be loaned…interest free…to the owner of this park to do the required upgrades. Our federal government is quick to hand out aid to countries reeling from a disaster . Mr Trudeau….we have a home grown disaster here in this park…please “fix things” now. It is time for emergency relief for this home grown problem.

    • The former park owners, the MOECC and APH are responsible for all of this. They covered up the deficiencies long enough to let the sale happen. They need to be held accountable.

      • That may very well be true…but…to hold these people accountable will take years of wrangling in the courts. iT IS NOT FAIR TO HOLD THOSE OCCUPYING THE PARK HOSTAGE while all this makes its way thru the legal system. They need something done now and the government needs to help out. Settle the people by fixing the problem NOW…. and THEN settle in court.

  2. I repeat:
    Mr. Mantha needs to see that an investigation of the MOECC and the APH and the former owners is started to find out how this sale was allowed to happen in the first place when the septic system had known issues for decades prior to the sale.
    I’m sure he doesn’t want to go there as I’m sure the MOECC and the APH don’t want him (or anyone) to go there. It would be major egg on their faces and someone would be losing their job(s) as well as having to fix the very thing they were trying to hide, at their cost of course, plus additional money to be awarded to the buyers for being screwed over by the very people that are supposed to be protecting them.

    It seems pretty obvious that the former owners (with some help from the MOECC and APH) screwed over this latest purchaser by masking the ongoing septic system issues to get the sale completed. Shortly after the deal was done they were on him like an eagle on a field mouse, slapping him with order after order.
    The new owner needs to sue and go for blood.
    Who would not agree?

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