A man and his 20 sled dogs who have been living on Crown Land near 100 Mile House for 17 years may have to find a new home.
Andrew Lawrence said on Monday, April 3 he was served eviction papers by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations at his cabin which is located off the seven kilometre mark on the Helena Lake Road.
“I am feeling powerless and I don’t know what to do,” Lawrence told the Tribune.
“My dogs are family. They have been with me for 25 years. I have asked everyone I know if anyone has a piece of property where I could put them.”
While he fully understands that he is trespassing, Lawrence said he wonders why the eviction notice is coming now after all this time.
“Why didn’t they try and get me out in the beginning?” he said.
He runs a tourism business with the sled dogs, but said this year was not a good one for his business.
“We had good snow but it was too cold for people to want to sit on sleds,” he said.
“My only income is my $350 CPP.”
When contacted about Lawrence’s plight, a Ministry of Forests spokesperson said Lawrence was first approached by natural resource officers in 2014 and issued a trespass notice for unauthorized occupation.
Since then ministry staff has been working with Lawrence to find a Land Act tenure that would allow him to stay on the land with his dogs, the ministry spokesperson said.
Lawrence was offered a Licence of Occupation for a five-year term in April 2016, which was amended to allow for payment of the annual rent and the security in installments.
The annual rent is $1,800 a year and the security is $2,000 which Lawrence could pay over a three-year period.
When Lawrence did not respond to the offer by the Feb. 15, 2017 deadline, the eviction notice was issued, the ministry said, noting staff have attempted to work out a solution for Lawrence that will allow him to stay on this site with his dogs so that he can continue to operate his dogsledding business.
Occupying Crown land requires authorization and operating a commercial venture on Crown land also requires an authorization.