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Union launches another court fight
UNW appeals orders to provide more access to building for tenants

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Union of Northern Workers is appealing yet another decision by the NWT's rental officer to provide safe access for its tenants.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tenants at the Union of Northern Workers building have been complaining about a lack of a safe entrance. The UNW is appealing a ruling by a rental officer and the next court date is June 1. - Danielle Sachs/NNSL photo

NWT rental officer Hal Logsdon ordered the union to provide tenants with either 24-hour access through the main entrance of the 52 Street building or through a fenced off area on the west side of the property May 3, giving the union 21 days to comply.

The union's lawyer filed an appeal with the NWT Supreme Court on the very last possible day, May 24.

It's the second time the UNW has appealed a rental officer's ruling to provide access this year, having appealed a Jan. 17 order to provide tenants access.

Four female tenants living in apartment units in the building have been trying to get their union landlord to provide street access to their apartments since last year when a fuel spill on a neighbouring property closed off a pathway on the east side of the building.

Currently, tenants can only access the building by either cutting across the neighbouring property or through the alley behind the building, which they argue is poorly-lit, frequented by drug dealers and is generally unsafe.

The fence on the west side of the building surrounds vehicles belonging to union staff.

The union's latest appeal argues Logsdon erred in his findings.

When tenant Kathryn Carriere - the first tenant to complain to the rental office - first looked into getting the union to open up the fence, she thought it would be easy.

"I just thought the rental officer would file an order and (the UNW) would just comply," she said.

"After this second order from the officer, we thought they were going to comply and it would finally be over."

So far, Carriere has been in court twice and two other tenants - neighbours Michele LeTourneau and Annemieke Mulders - will be there to hear the appeal of the orders they sought June 1.

"Enough time has been spent on this," said Carriere. "We're hoping the judge will see how ridiculous this is."

The UNW has previously stated the west side of the building is closed to reduce the risk of damage and vandalism to vehicles.

Carriere wants to know how much money the union has spent so far fighting the orders.

"They sent a letter to Michele (LeTourneau) saying no union dues are being spent on this," said Carriere.

"The union owns the building, there must be some money spent on this."

Earlier in April, LeTourneau attempted to take the issue into her own hands. She cut out a section of chain link fence on the west side of the building. It was repaired the next day.

LeTourneau is now facing replacement charges for the fence, billed at $630.

'They're billing her for damages and possible charges," said Carriere.

"Before we found out about the appeal we were considering paying for it just to get it all over," said Carriere.

"It's taking over our lives, it's all we talk about."

Officials with the UNW refused to comment on the case.

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