Business dispute divides village

A dispute between two Alix businesses has divided residents, thrust the village in the middle and involved the RCMP.
The disagreement between Alix Shoppes and Alix Home Hardware over their easements erupted earlier this year.
Malonie and Marcel Grimard, owners of Alix Shoppes, said Alix Home Hardware’s easement encroached on their easement. Grimard said when they bought the building two years ago they approached the town because their access was only four feet and not the nine it was supposed to be.
“The garden centre from Home Hardware was on our easement and because the land had been raised up, it was causing problems with water drainage on our property,” she said.
Grimard added that Alix Shoppes wanted to put up outdoor tables for their customers but couldn’t because Home Hardware’s fence encroached on their easement.
After an in-camera session Nov. 2, Alix council passed a motion that Home Hardware’s occupation of the said lot constituted an actionable trespass.
Curt Peterson, who is also a councillor for the Village of Alix, owns Home Hardware. The village, at its June 1 meeting cancelled their lease agreement with Home Hardware effective July 3.
Grimard claimed, however, that after the village made a motion to cancel the lease agreement with Home Hardware, the village gave Peterson permission to keep his fence on the easement. She accused the village of favouring Peterson.
The village denies this.
“There is no lease agreement in place between Alix Home Hardware and the Village of Alix,” said Alix Mayor Arlene Nelson.  “And our Nov. 2 motion could not be any clearer.”
The village, at its November meeting, also cancelled its lease agreement with Alix Shoppes, which Grimard says now forces her to close her laundromat.
Alix Shoppes houses three businesses, a restaurant, a photographer and a laundromat. Grimard said losing the easement impedes on access to the laundromat access and she will have to shut down.
“By taking away the easement agreement and access right of way I will have to close my laundromat as I most certainly cannot have people bringing their dirty laundry through the front door of my restaurant,” said Grimard.
“The laundromat has its own access door separate from the rest of the business,” she said. “It is located at the side of the building, which has the easement agreement.”
But Village of Alix Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Troy Jenkins said the village has never denied access to any sidewalk to Alix Shoppes at any time.
“The assertions being made that the village is attempting to shut down this business is not the case. The village is trying to grow business and improve cooperation throughout our community.”
CAO Jenkins added that the village has acted in good faith in all its dealings with Alix Shoppes.
“The village has retained and followed legal advice throughout this process.”
Curt Peterson, owner of Home Hardware, said, in a phone interview last week, that he appealed the village’s motion to cancel his lease agreement.
“I wrote a letter to request to renew the lease with new boundaries determined mutually,” he said.
CAO Jenkins said after legal advice it was determined the village was within its rights to terminate Peterson’s lease and the village didn’t consider his appeal.
“No appeal was made on the trespass motion,” he added.
Peterson said he didn’t know that his fence was built on Alix Shoppes’ easement when he put it up.
“I was told to keep the swale open. I’ve done everything they (village) said in my lease. The CAO at that time made a mistake and did not go back and see what the easement said. I didn’t know where the easement was. I put it (fence) in the exact spot where I was told.”
Peterson said he recently offered to move his fence to make room for a table and four chairs after Marcel Grimard suggested that as a solution.
“It was his (Marcel) idea. I give him credit for it.”
But Peterson claimed when he and Marcel went up to measure where the fence should be he was “verbally and almost physically accosted” by another man.
“That’s when we quit (measuring),” he said. “I was verbally accosted and (name deleted) verbally accosted me and threatened me, to knock my block off. Since that I have filed a complaint with the RCMP against (him) and if it happens again more action will be taken.”
Grimard also claimed that she was followed into Alix on one occasion by someone and was subsequently verbally accosted and was afraid.
Bashaw RCMP said that although they have been called to Alix no charges have been laid against anyone.
Earlier this month the Village of Alix received a $25,925 invoice from Grimard accusing the village of breaching its easement agreement.
“We will not be paying this invoice,” said CAO Jenkins. We are moving on. Alix Shoppes have their remedies should they choose them. Our job is to bring our community together and strengthen our municipality.
“The legal fees continuing to be incurred are also coming out the taxpayers’ pockets,” added CAO Jenkins. “The allegations being made are frivolous and untrue. The time has come to end this drama we have. It is time to move on.”

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