Jozsef Mate doesn’t believe he should have to move from his home at Keithley Creek near Likely, B.C.
A year ago the 65-year-old was served an eviction notice by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and told he was squatting on Crown land. The notice was followed by a seizure notice on July 2.
“I’m not planning to leave, I have nowhere to go,” Mate said, adding he first discovered the empty mobile home in 1988 while prospecting in the area and has lived there since.
“I found the owner and bought the mobile home privately.”
Around 1995, when he was close to finishing paying the mortgage, Mate said he had to go to court to prove his ownership.
Once it was proven, the court registered his mobile home and the location of the pad it sits on, he said. He has been paying taxes to the Cariboo Regional District ever since.
“They are ignoring the fact I am paying taxes,” Mate said of the ministry’s eviction. “I am very well aware that I have no private property, that I cannot sell or rent anything related to the land.”
A ministry spokesperson confirmed natural resource officers were going to proceed with the eviction and site cleanup last fall, but that was put on hold until this spring, “giving Mr. Mate plenty of time to clean up and vacate the site.”
Two other residents in the area were also issued trespass and seizure notices at the same time and vacated the site during summer 2013, the ministry said.
Mate said he has been harassed, threatened with jail and told his home would be destroyed and taken to the dump.
According to Natural Resource Officers working on this file, Mate has not been “threatened” with jail, the ministry said.
“However, the trespass notice that was served to Mr. Mate does include information about non-compliance and potential next steps regarding enforcement.”
The excerpt reads: “A contravention of Section 60 of the Land Act is an offence and upon conviction, a person is liable to a fine of not more than $20,000, or to imprisonment for a term of not longer than 60 days, or to both a fine and imprisonment.”
“I panicked last year and told the telephone company to cut off my phone because I was not able to work,” he said.
His hydro was also cut off a year ago to prove he was following the government’s orders, he added.
“I have been completely broken and been living like a cave man ever since for what?” he said.
“I am thinking of taking my case to the Supreme Court of Canada. I am doing nothing wrong.”
When asked what instigated the evictions in the first place, the ministry said the Cariboo Region Natural Resource office received an e-mail tip about the persons living on the land in 2011.
“I didn’t occupy anything because the premise was here already and the judge okayed it and transferred it to my name,” Mate said.
The ministry said even if Mate has been paying taxes to the CRD and or BC Assessment this does not create any right to the property by the taxpayer.