'I'm now homeless again': Arnprior man who built his own home has it torn down

Guy Lamarche's bunkie has been torn down at a parking lot in Arnprior, Ont. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)

ARNPRIOR -- After community efforts to move Guy Lamarche's tiny home from Carp to Arnprior, Ont. in February, the handmade bunkie that sat in a downtown parking lot has now been torn down.

"I’m now homeless again," says Lamarche, who is back to living out of his van. "That didn’t get us anywhere."

The bunkie was placed in the back corner of a parking lot on Feb. 23.  In the weeks following, Arnprior bylaw issued a notice to Lamarche that the structure was unsafe to live in, leading to the 64-year-old announcing that he will be abandoning the bunkie and leaving Arnprior.

"I left Arnprior because the dialogue and the actions taken by the town and other people in the town were very hateful, very negative," Lamarche tells CTV News Ottawa. "You know, it turned so quickly and went so negative so quickly I don’t understand what I could have done to make it go so bad."

Arnrprior resident Doug Smith was the person who notified bylaw of the structure.

"I was worried for Guy’s safety, so I filed a complaint," Smith explains. "A safety complaint with the town."

Smith owns the land that neighbours the parking lot where the bunkie was set up, and was part of a small team that tore the structure apart over the Easter weekend.

"I think we did seven hours to tear off the skin. We had to remove all the garbage and insulation," says Smith. "He abandoned the property."

Smith says he volunteered to help his neighbour and the owner of the parking lot, Gary McCann, remove the bunkie.

"In a few days he is going to be 77 years old, he doesn’t need this kind of stress," says Smith of his neighbour. "I think he’s going to spend about $450 just to remove the garbage with the trucks and the backhoe we had in here the other day."

McCann declined to speak with CTV News, but there is debate over whether the bunkie should have been in his parking lot to begin with. Lamarche says he was "absolutely" given permission to move the structure to the property in Arnprior.

"(McCann) responded, 'We’ll just say it’s a security shack or whatever,'" explains Lamarche. "And I went, 'okay that’s fine so I have your permission.' I moved it there."

"I spoke with Gary, he never met with Guy," says Smith. "Guy just assumed it was okay and brought it in."

There was also a sum of money fundraised for Lamarche’s moving costs to get the bunkie to Arnprior. In the end, the move was carried out for free. Local Linda Barrett says she started a GoFundMe after learning of Lamarche’s story.

"It raised about $3,894," says Barrett. "He received $3,500 out of it, I think that’s what he got."

"It is in my personal bank account and I have not spent any of those monies because of the situation," says Lamarche. "I want to do the right thing in the end somehow and I haven’t come to that conclusion yet."

The situation also raises questions about the ability for homeless people in the Ottawa Valley to get ahead.

"It is very difficult," says Oliver Jacob, a member of the Greater Arnprior Community Council on Poverty & Homelessness. "We don’t have the same level of supports that we see in the city. We don’t have shelters, we don’t have that kind of temporary support."

"I thought it was very unfortunate," says Jacob of how Lamarche’s bunkie journey has turned out. "The reality is unfortunately there are rules, but those rules exist for a reason."

"I’m quite disappointed that it had to come to crushing and wrecking my house," says Lamarche. "I’d like to see this turn out right."