A request to forgive tax penalties for the Bashaw Motel was declined by council.
The motel owners face $46,000 in fees, which include fire services, past taxes and penalties stemming from the October 2016 Bashaw Motel fire.
The request came Aug. 16 during the regular meeting in the form of a letter from property owner Gurpreet Tiwana, seeking help to waive the penalties.
The breakdown of fees, taxes and penalties is unclear, however, there are two tax rolls for the owners: $43,659 and $2,255.
The fire occurred Oct. 10, 2016 and claimed the life of her husband Barinder Singh Tiwana, 54, and severely injured Mrs. Tiwana and her younger son.
The incident was devastating to the family where Mrs. Tiwana was left handicapped, she said in a letter to council.
“Me and my younger son were also severely injured and was taken to Edmonton hospital where I was unconscious for several months.”
Coun. Rob MacDonald asked about insurance for the property and CAO Theresa Fuller no information has been disclosed to the town about what was covered by insurance. The demolition and clean up appears to be the only area addressed.
In an interview with Bashaw Star, Mrs. Tiwana said she was in a coma for six months after the fire where she and her son were left badly burned. “My hand is not working,” she explained.
“It was very bad. Everything is lost. Everything is gone.”
Since the fire Mrs. Tiwana now lives alone in Calgary where she receives some help and support from friends and family, but returning to Bashaw is not an option.
While they did have insurance, she says they were not covered for fire and ambulance services. She has made a few payments of several hundred dollars here and there but not anything close to what is owed.
“I don’t have any choice. I don’t have any options,” Mrs. Tiwana explained.
Healing is an ongoing ordeal, she added, stating that doctors tell her she has a few surgeries to go through still.
Mrs. Tiwana did say a friend is working to help her sell the property in the hopes she can pay back what is owed. There has been some interest in buying, she offered.
The decision to decline the forgiveness request was not an easy one, say councillors.
“It’s a very sad case,” said Mayor Penny Shantz.
Coun. Lynn Schultz suggested that despite the challenges, the bill should be payed. “I know that sounds hard-hearted,” he said.
MacDonald said he’d be willing to look at a portion of the penalty and Shantz suggested maybe a payment schedule would work.
CAO Theresa Fuller said for the latter an offer was made to the town to make a repayment schedule but she said it was for eight years, which Fuller feels is not feasible.
“They still have some time to sell the property,” said Fuller pointing out it could go to tax recovery through an auction next year.