Snowfall puts Road to Nowhere homes at risk

Insurance companies put onus on owners, homeowner tells council



Snowmachines might rocket off her roof, or neighbourhood children could tumble from the eaves and crack their heads.

Those are some concerns of insurance companies who refuse to do further business with Doreen Barrieau, a homeowner who lives on the Road to Nowhere in Iqaluit.

Insurance for her home, provided by Nunavut Insurance, expired on Thursday this week. Arctic Insurance has also refused to do business. Barrieau approached another firm she hasn’t heard back from, but she said she wasn’t hopeful.

Trouble began in May this year, when an insurance adjuster arrived at her home to investigate a fuel spill. He said her real problem was snow: lots of it.

Snow piles up over three sides of her home during the long winter, and the white stuff stays until August. The adjuster said the house was a high liability, because people could fall off it.

Barrieau’s now concerned the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation might withdraw her mortgage insurance next, and that she might in turn default on her home.

“We’re going to lose our house. I don’t know what you can do for us. I wasn’t even planning on coming,” she said in a tearful statement to council on Tues, Oct. 25.

When Barrieau bought her brand-new home two years ago, she says she had no idea what mess she was getting herself into. Her deck collapsed two winters in a row.

“It’s impossible to keep clear of snow,” she said. Neither can she keep neighbourhood children off the roof, or clear the snow herself, which Barrieau said she was told were her responsibilities by the insurance company.

“They told me it’s my responsibility to clear snow. I told them I couldn’t afford the excavator and dump trucks.”

Barrieau probably won’t be the only homeowner on the Road to Nowhere to face this problem, said Iqaluit’s mayor, Elisapee Sheutiapik.

Last week the city met with a consultant to discuss putting up snow fencing around the neighbourhood by Christmas, said the city’s chief administrative officer, Ian Fremantle.

If council approves, public works plans to drill metal posts into the ground and stretch plastic netting across them. It will only be a temporary measure during the first year, Fremantle said, because the needed length and location of the fence hasn’t been decided. Moving the snow that does pile up will be another matter.

“At some point we’ll have to go in there with heavy equipment and haul some of the snow out,” Fremantle said.

Council will write a letter to the insurance company asking for clarification on their position on insuring homes in the area, and reminding them of the the city’s plan to put up snow fencing in the area.

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