by Marianne Curtis
What started out as a simple tree trimming has turned into a lawsuit, leaving a Ste. Anne senior feeling like he is being lied to and bullied by the system.
Three years ago, Romeo Blanchette from the Town of Ste. Anne heard chainsaws in his backyard. Upon closer investigation he found that his neighbour had hired someone to cut down willows planted along the property line. Distraught at the loss of eighteen mature trees, Blanchette confronted the neighbour and called the local police.
“I wanted him charged with vandalism,” stated Blanchette. He admits that in the past he allowed his neighbour to trim the trees down to four feet stumps because they grow back. However, it was not a standing invitation, he added.
“He did not have my permission to come onto my property and cut down the trees,” Blanchette stresses.
Initially Blanchette tried suing the Town of Ste. Anne because it was their employee Cecil Lafreniere that allegedly cut the trees down, using a town truck in the process.
Court documents submitted by Cecil Lafreniere admit that he trimmed the trees outside of work hours, using his own tools and that he drove on Blanchette’s property with the town truck.
What has been frustrating Blanchette is the run around he’s received while trying to close the issue.
“I went to the police to press charges and they took my statement,” explained Blanchette. “When I asked if they were going to pursue it the (Ste. Anne) police told me that the crown would not be preceding with criminal charges in the matter. Yet when I contacted the crown, the crown had no knowledge of the case.”
Meanwhile Blanchette took the matter to the Town of Ste. Anne council suggesting that the police are “obstructing justice”. Each time he has asked for answers about the matter, he has received a response from the town that his questions should go through a lawyer because of a pending lawsuit.
“I was told my concerns were brought to council for discussion but when I asked for confirmation such as a resolution or note in the minutes their response was it does not exist,” Blanchette added. “I have been lied to and mislead – I want this resolved.”
Further attempts for information resulted in a letter from the mayor Bernie Vermette which states “The council of the town of Ste. Anne would appreciate that you please refrain from sending any more letters to the town regarding this matter.”
Blanchette is suing Lafreniere and the neighbour who hired him for $30,000 in damages, which is the cost of replacing the trees.
~as published in the April 2010 Dawson Trail Dispatch