From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier

From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan" by Andy Couturier

Pages 264-265

“Sooo..” I begin to ask him, a bit apprehensive, not wanting to be insulting, “Gufu-san, why write all this stuff down?”

Unperturbed, he replies simply, “To make a record. If you don’t record things, you start to lose your sense of the place. It’s also interesting when you talk to other people, or when I want to look up something later. But it’s mostly just to make a record, even if I don’t use the information.”

“Yes, but how do you decide which things to write down?”

“Whatever is possible to write down, I write. How much the bus cost. How much the movie was, or how much the hotel was.”

“But why?” I ask.

“I didn’t have any purpose in doing it.”

No purpose? Perhaps I’ve been too attached to all my own actions being done for a reason. Utilitarianism is so deep in my culture I don’t even notice it. Listening to Gufu it occurs to me that it may not be so good to be always reaching ahead in time. Sitting here with my friend in a farmhouse in the mountains of Japan, I find my way of seeing the world start to deepen and change. All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory. By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next. I think of so many travelers (myself included) zipping from one location to the next, taking photos of scenery or a building. Have I been missing the beautiful in the obvious?

Gufu is showing me--not that he’s trying to show me anything--that the whole world can come alive with these tiny details, ephemera, you might call them. But not just a generalized “world,” but a specific world, an India of a particular time, and, as it happens, an India that is disappearing every day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

--#FollowingRuthAdria------------and let the singing be heard everywhere

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and when you are lonely
listen to the heart
as it keeps beating

and when you wish for singing
take the heart as the musical instrument
and play upon it

and when you are hoping for happiness
trust in the heart's messages
for these are the only ways out of the dark times

believe in the work that you do
for the most disadvantaged and silenced
these our families   and we stand up for them

while the government of Alberta
fiddles   while the politicians preach to us
their sermons of no change    let us keep going

while the world shrinks into the shapes of past times
let us take our voices and speak
let us follow Ruth Adria      and tell the stories of our loved ones

yes let us end the silence in the continuing care system
let us say the stories of the silenced
and let the singing be heard everywhere

Stars performing "Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It" live on KCRW

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January 10, 2017
It’s unclear why Alberta decided to be the last province to hold out on this ground.
It’s unclear why Alberta decided to be the last province to hold out on this ground. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
Alberta is finally going to make ageism a ground for discrimination.
An Edmonton court has recently ruled that age is going to be a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
Up until now, age was not listed as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the act when it came to such things as tenancies and goods and services, even though age is mentioned in the act. All other provinces have included age as a discrimination ground in their human rights codes for years.
It’s unclear why Alberta decided to be the last province to hold out on this ground but the court’s go ahead on Friday has been greeted with cheers by many advocates.
That includes the well-known seniors’ advocate, Ruth Adria, who fought for the change.
"Over half a million Alberta citizens, their rights are violated under the Charter. . . They do not have equal benefit of the law or protection of the law," Adria told CBC News.
Seniors in Alberta have faced discrimination when it comes to such things as drivers testing, which is age based and affects seniors “profoundly.”
However, this decision doesn’t just affect the elderly but the young as well. There have been situations in Alberta in which landlords refuse to rent to families, because the property is an adult-only building and they don’t want families as tenants. It’s likely the prohibited age discrimination inclusion will make it a lot tougher for them to do so.
That leaves the question of why Alberta waited this long to make age a prohibited ground. That’s a question that also baffled Adria’s lawyer, Allan Garber, who explained the court’s decision by saying, “They realized that they had to get in step with the rest of Canada. But it’s also the right thing to do, whether or not they’re in step, it’s the right thing to do.”
The court gave the province one year to figure out the exemptions the government wants to make under the newly prohibited ground, then it will become law.
Garber said they will be watching closely to see what exemptions the government makes under the new ground to ensure they don’t go against seniors’ interests.

“Age” to be Included as a Prohibited Ground of Discrimination in Alberta

On January 6, 2017 Ruth Adria of “Elder Advocates” brought an action to the Court of Queen’s Bench arguing that the Alberta Human Rights Act (AHRA) should include ‘age’ as a prohibited ground of discrimination. The primary argument progressed by Adria is that the AHRA violates section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it deprives Albertan seniors of equal protections and benefits provided by the law without discrimination. Adria explains that there are over half a million Albertan citizens who are not protected against discrimination based on their age. Adria’s lawyer (Allan Graber) pointed out that, “to the best of [his] knowledge, Alberta is the only province in Canada that still does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of age with respect to goods, services, rental accommodations, and tenancies.”
Situations in which seniors could benefit from the inclusion of ‘age’ as a protected ground in the AHRAare numerous. Adria explains that seniors with physical disabilities have been forced to live in the dementia wing of their care residence even though they have fully functioning cognitive abilities. Seniors in this situation are unable to challenge their placement, and they would benefit from this change in the law. As well, when senior citizens end up in the hospital after an accident (such as a fall) their healthcare practitioners are able to order them to be relocated to an assisted living facility, rather than return to their homes. Adria describes that, “Even if [that person’s] family wants to take them home they say you can’t.” As well, Adria also highlights that the rules that apply to seniors who drive vehicles can be discriminatory in some situations and could also be challenged by this change in legislation.
The AHRA was formed in 1972 and did not include age as a protected ground of discrimination, which has been an issue ever since. In 1984 age was recommended to become an enumerated ground by the Human Rights Review Panel, and again in the 2008 the government was asked to include age in the Act but the province refused. In this recent court case, Adria’s application to include age in the AHRAwas unopposed by the provincial government and granted by Justice Paul Belzil. We can expect to see changes implemented by the beginning of 2018.

Une aînée demande l'interdiction de la discrimination basée sur l'âge

Ruth AdriaRuth Adria Photo : Radio-Canada
La Cour du Banc de la Reine à Edmonton a entendu vendredi après-midi une cause qui pourrait avoir des conséquences sur la société albertaine. La plaignante Ruth Adria, présidente de la Société de défense des aînés de l'Alberta, demande que la discrimination basée sur l'âge soit explicitement interdite dans la charte des droits de la personne de la province.
Mme Adria et son organisation soulignent que les personnes âgées sont vulnérables et s'indignent que les abus qu'elles subissent soient souvent commis en toute impunité.
« Dans les maisons de soins pour aînés, les personnes âgées sont harcelées, violées ou assassinées sans que le Code criminel ne soit jamais appliqué », a-t-elle affirmé.
Selon la plainte, les droits fondamentaux d'un demi-million d'Albertains sont bafoués par la charte des droits actuelle, puisque les 500 000 aînés de la province ne jouissent pas d'une protection légale équivalente à celle de leurs concitoyens.
Mme Adria exige que l'âge figure aux côtés d'autres motifs de discrimination interdits par la loi, tels que la race, la religion, l'état civil et le sexe, en vertu des articles 4 et 5 de la charte des droits de la personne de l'Alberta.

Discrimination interdite par le Canada

Allan Garber, l'avocat représentant la plaignante, a rappelé que la législation albertaine est la seule au pays à ne pas interdire la discrimination basée sur l'âge. Il a également noté que la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés interdit cette dernière.
Cette situation prive les personnes âgées d'un recours supplémentaire pour dénoncer les abus dont elles sont victimes, selon la Société de défense des aînés de l'Alberta.
La procureure générale de la province a affirmé au tribunal qu'elle ne s'opposait pas à l'inclusion de l'âge dans les articles 4 et 5 de la charte des droits, mais a mis en garde contre la possibilité que ce changement puisse avoir d'importantes conséquences.
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Elle s'est demandé si un adolescent à qui la vente de cigarettes est refusée pourrait invoquer les articles 4 et 5 pour faire valoir ses droits s'il estime que ceux-ci ont été bafoués. Le procès a d'ailleurs été ajourné pendant un an pour permettre à la défense d'étudier les conséquences qu'une modification de la charte impliquerait.
Militante de longue date du droit des personnes âgées, Ruth Adria a déposé un premier recours concernant les articles 4 et 5 en 1994. Toutefois, jamais la magistrature n'avait accepté d'entendre la cause, avant jeudi.
Selon le directeur général de la Fédération des aînés franco-albertains, Yannick Freychet, il est évident que le gouvernement doit en faire davantage pour assurer le bien-être des aînés. Il estime cependant que si les personnes âgées constituent une catégorie de citoyens plus vulnérables, c'est notamment parce qu'elles défendent moins leurs droits que d'autres classes de la société.
Actuellement, les aînés ne sont ni plus ni moins protégés que d'autres groupes de la population, mais je crois que c'est une population qui est plus vulnérable dans la mesure où elle est moins habituée à se battre socialement.
Yannick Freychet, directeur général de la Fédération des aînés franco-albertains
L'audience reprendra le 6 janvier 2018.
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ICI Radio-Canada Alberta

Elder calls for prohibition of discrimination based on age

Ruth AdriaRuth Adria Photo: Radio-Canada
The Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton heard on Friday afternoon a case that could have an impact on Alberta society. Complainant Ruth Adria, President of the Alberta Seniors' Defense Society, calls for age discrimination to be explicitly prohibited in the province's charter of human rights.
Ms Adria and her organization stressed that the elderly were vulnerable and indignant that the abuses they suffered were often committed with impunity.
"In seniors' homes, seniors are harassed, raped or murdered without the Criminal Code ever being enforced," she said.
According to the complaint, the fundamental rights of half a million Albertans are violated by the current charter of rights, since the 500,000 seniors in the province do not enjoy legal protection equivalent to that of their fellow citizens.
Ms. Adria demands that age be included alongside other prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as race, religion, marital status and gender, under Articles 4 and 5 of the Charter of Human Rights. The person of Alberta.

Discrimination prohibited by Canada

Allan Garber, Counsel for the Complainant, recalled that Alberta legislation is the only law in the country that does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of age. He also noted that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits the latter.
This situation deprives seniors of an additional recourse to report abuse, according to the Alberta Seniors' Advocacy Society.
The Attorney General of the province told the court that she did not oppose the inclusion of age in sections 4 and 5 of the Bill of Rights, but warned that the Have significant consequences.
Read also :
She wondered whether a young person to whom the sale of cigarettes was refused could invoke Articles 4 and 5 in order to assert his rights if he felt that they had been violated. The trial was adjourned for one year to allow the defense to study the consequences that an amendment to the charter would imply.
Ruth Adria, a long-standing advocate for the elderly, filed a first appeal concerning sections 4 and 5 in 1994. However, the judiciary had never agreed to hear the case before Thursday.
According to Yannick Freychet, general manager of the Franco-Albertan seniors' federation, it is clear that the government must do more to ensure the well-being of seniors. However, he believes that elderly people constitute a category of more vulnerable citizens, not least because they defend their rights less than other classes of society.
Currently, seniors are neither more nor less protected than other groups of the population, but I believe that it is a population that is more vulnerable because it is less used to fighting socially.
Yannick Freychet, Executive Director of the Franco-Albertan Federation of Seniors
The hearing will resume on January 6, 2018.
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Alberta Agrees to Amend Human Rights Legislation to Expand Prohibitions Against Age Discrimination

By: Jennifer Koshan
Case Commented On: Ruth Maria Adria v Attorney General of Alberta, Court File No 1603 05013, Consent Order filed 13 January 2017
Human rights legislation exists in every province and territory in Canada, and at the federal level, but protection against discrimination varies amongst jurisdictions with respect to what grounds and areas are protected. Until recently, the Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000, c A-25.5, only protected against age discrimination in the areas of publications and notices (section 3), employment practices and advertisements (sections 7 and 8), and membership in a trade union, employers’ organization or occupational association (section 9). Age was not a protected ground in relation to the provision of goods, services, accommodation or facilities customarily available to the public (section 4), or in relation to tenancies (section 5).
In January 2017, the Alberta government agreed to expand the Alberta Human Rights Act to include age as a protected ground under sections 4 and 5. This development was prompted by an application brought in March 2016 by Ruth Maria Adria under section 15 of the Charter, the constitutional equality rights guarantee, to have the omission of age declared unconstitutional and to have age read in to these sections. The Adria case is similar to Vriend v Alberta, [1998] 1 SCR 493, 1998 CanLII 816, where a section 15 challenge went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada before a reading in remedy was granted to add sexual orientation to Alberta’s human rights legislation (see ABlawg posts on Vriend here and here). Unlike Vriend, however, the government did not fight the challenge in the Adria case. As noted in the consent order signed by Justice R.P. Belzil of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta consented to the reading in remedy, which will be suspended for one year (presumably to allow parties who are covered by the new prohibition against age discrimination to amend existing policies and practices as needed). The Alberta Human Rights Commission will begin accepting complaints on the ground of age under sections 4 and 5 when the government amends the legislation or on January 6, 2018, whichever occurs first.
There is one important caveat to this significant legal development. Age is defined in the Alberta Human Rights Act to mean 18 years of age or older (section 44(1)). Therefore, service providers and landlords will still be able to deny goods, services, accommodations, facilities and tenancies to persons under the age of 18 years without facing a human rights complaint. Ms. Adria’s application was motivated by concerns about discrimination against the elderly in the areas of services and tenancies (Adria is affiliated with the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society). This is certainly a valid concern, as a previous ABlawg post on the treatment of elderly condominium residents makes clear, as do the case studies on the Elder Advocates website. However, now that it is looking at this issue, the government might consider extending the protection against age discrimination to include youth under the age of 18.
Alberta is not the only province to exclude youth from protection against discrimination based on age – for example, Ontario and Saskatchewan also define age as over 18 years old (Human Rights Code, RSO 1990, c H.19, section 10(1); Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, SS 1979, c S-24.1, section 2), and in British Columbia, age discrimination is only prohibited for those 19 years and older (see Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c 210, section 1). In Ontario, however, youth who are 16 or 17 years old and who have withdrawn from parental control have “a right to equal treatment with respect to occupancy of and contracting for accommodation without discrimination because the person is less than eighteen years old” (Human Rights Code, section 4). This type of provision recognizes that some youth live independently and have housing needs that should not be denied simply on the basis of their age. Youth homelessness has been recognized as a problem in Alberta (which has a youth homelessness initiative; so does the Calgary Homeless Foundation and other municipalities). Amending the Alberta Human Rights Act to protect against age discrimination without any limits, or at the very least in the context of housing for independent youth, would be one positive step forward in this context. It would also recognize that youth under 18 are employable, and should have the same right to be free from discrimination  in the employment context as those over 18 (see Alberta Human Right Review Panel, Equal in Dignity at 57).
The government’s rationale for excluding age discrimination claims from youth may be to avoid a flood of claims, given that age is a common basis for limiting entitlements in society (driving, voting, working, admission to facilities serving alcohol, etc.). Other provinces have dealt with this issue by creating specifically tailored limits on age discrimination protections in their human rights statutes. For example, the Manitoba Human Rights Code, CCSM c H175, provides in section 13(2) that “Nothing … prevents the denial or refusal of a service, accommodation, facility, good, right, licence, benefit, program or privilege to a person who has not attained the age of majority if the denial or refusal is required or authorized by a statute in force in Manitoba”, with an equivalent exception for employment discrimination in section 14(10) (see also New Brunswick’s Human Rights Act, RSNB 2011, c 171, which has similar provisions in sections 4(7), 5(5) and 6(3)). These sorts of carefully tailored provisions would be much more likely to withstand scrutiny under section 1 of the Charter, the reasonable limits clause, than the blanket exclusion of discrimination against youth that currently exists in the Alberta Human Rights Act, if it were to be constitutionally challenged.
In 1994, the Alberta Human Right Review Panel recommended that age be added to Alberta’s human rights legislation for all areas of discrimination, with no limits on age (see Equal in Dignity at 16). The Alberta government has now agreed to the first recommendation; it is time for it to implement the second.

This post may be cited as: Jennifer Koshan “Alberta Agrees to Amend Human Rights Legislation to Expand Prohibitions Against Age Discrimination” (7 February, 2017), online: ABlawg,
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A Ryley resident’s cause has been taken up by the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society (1992) after he was forced to sell his house to pay a $4,000 bill from the village for painting his house.
Bill Yarmovich will have to move out of his house in Ryley within two weeks. The closing date for the sale is Feb. 21. He said this was done to pay the Village of Ryley’s bill, which could not be paid any other way.
Yarmovich had been ordered by the bylaw officer to paint his house. Yarmovich started to paint it but at 86 years of age found it difficult. He got a third of the painting completed after falling and breaking a couple of ribs.
He asked to have more time to complete the job, but the village got the house painted and charged him $4,000, including interest. He was also charged $180 for cutting grass.
Yarmovich was directed to appear at Ryley Village Council Feb. 7.
The Elder Advocates of Alberta Society contacted the Village of Ryley to inform… for more see the Feb. 14/17 Mercury

February 19, 2017 5:10 pm
Updated: February 21, 2017 8:54 pm

86-year-old Alberta man sells house to pay village painting bill

WATCH ABOVE: William Yarmovich claims he's been forced to sell his home in Ryley after the town saddled him with a $4000 bill he can't afford. Sarah Kraus reports.
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Editor’s note: The Village of Ryley has since responded to this story, two days after the mayor declined comment. You can read the update, published Tuesday evening, here.
William Yarmovich has lived in the Village of Ryley, east of Edmonton, for nearly 20 years. He’s loved all of it except the last couple- he claims he’s been bullied by the village’s administration.
The 86-year-old told Global News he’s been forced to sell his beloved home and move into a friend’s seniors residence after he was saddled with a $4000 bill for painting the exterior of his home, a requirement of the village.
Since Global’s story was broadcast, several Ryley residents have called, emailed or commented to question Yarmovich’s account, saying he was given ample time to comply with the painting order and refused offers of help.
View image on Twitter
Here's what the house looked like after 86 y/o William started scraping paint off. Broke two ribs when he fell from ladder. #yeg
His story begins in the summer of 2015 when Yarmovich says a village bylaw officer told him his home needed painting.
“I started scraping the loose paint and of course I fell off a ladder, broke two ribs and I was incapacitated for two months,” Yarmovich recounted.
While he was on the mend- he says he was issued a ticket by bylaw officers- fining him for “tall grass” on his property.
“They got somebody to cut the grass. Charged $200 for a job that’s worth $25,” he said.
View image on Twitter
Yarmovich was also handed this $180 fee for someone to cut the grass at his house when he had 2 broken ribs from falling trying to paint.
The senior paid the fine and was given an extension on the painting of the house. The village requires homeowners to maintain the exterior of their homes as well as their yards through a ‘community standards’ bylaw.
By the summer of 2016, Yarmovich said he and a neighbour had about a third of the house painted.
“They gave me a time limit,” he said. “By the 31st of August I needed to have it done and of course it rained darn near every day. You do not put paint on wet lumber because it will not bind.”
That’s when Yarmovich says village administration took matters into its own hands, sending a crew out to paint the house and making him foot the bill, nearly $3500.
Yarmovich says he arranged to have the rest finished too – just not quick enough.
“I already bought the paint, I made arrangements to get it painted for roughly $800,” he said.
The senior has not been able to make the payment. He looked into getting government assistance for the maintenance, but was unsuccessful. Yarmovich said his only option was to sell the home and pay the bill.
“I’m 86 years old, I’ve only got so much ability and so much financial resources.”
In the meantime, he’s also been charged an additional 18 per cent late payment fee and another 10 per cent since. His bill now sits at $4000.
“Well there’s no way I could come up with that kind of money,” the senior said. “So I decided to put the house on the market. Luckily, a guy was interested and he bought it, which was a relief. Even though I basically gave it away, it was a relief.”
Ryley Mayor Lavonne Svenson did not answer questions when reached on Saturday, but told Global News “We have forwarded all of our documents to our legal council and are waiting for his response.”
Seniors advocates liken Yarmovich’s experience to elder abuse.
“We allege that the CAO and the mayor and the council have subjected Mr. Yarmovich to virulent elder abuse,” said Ruth Adria, spokesperson for Elder Advocates of Alberta. “We’re outraged.”
The organization has written a letter to the village asking for the painting fees to be waived and the lawn mowing fine to be returned. Adria said they also want an apology for Yarmovich and a promise not to treat any other seniors in Ryley the same way.
“They’ve been in hiding ever since- so obviously we hit the mark,” Adria said.
Yarmovich now plans to move out of the village he once loved and into nearby Tofield.
“They’ve caused me enough frustration,” he said.
He said he will miss his garden the most- where he grew vegetables for so many neighbours.
View image on Twitter
William Yarmovich says he knew his house needed painting, and was working on it. Just not fast enough for the village of Ryley.
The senior, who worked as a contractor for over 35 years, said he felt bullied by the village.
“There are other houses that need paint more than mine, he just targeted me,” he said speaking of the bylaw officer.
The Village of Ryley is a small community of 497 residents located just 50 minutes east of Edmonton on Highway 14.
with files from Sarah Kraus

'I just want out': Senior in Ryley, Alta. sells home to cover cost of painting it

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Man sells home to pay for cost to paint it
A Ryley, Alberta man says he's had to sell his home, after municipal officials painted it for him, and then charged him thousands of dollars.



Julia Parrish
Julia Parrish, Web Reporter, CTV Edmonton

Published Monday, February 20, 2017 1:35PM MST
A central Alberta man said he’s had to sell his home, after an effort by village officials to improve the look of his house left him with a hefty bill.
Bill Yarmovich lives in Ryley, Alberta – he lives alone, and is on pension.
“I’m limited to what I get,” Yarmovich said.


Sold home in Ryley
Bill Yarmovich said he had to sell his home in Ryley, Alberta, after the town painted his home, then charged him $3,400 for it.
Bill Yarmovich
Yarmovich, 86, said he tried to paint his home himself, but it rained, and he broke some ribs after he fell off a ladder.
He told CTV News back in 2015, he was issued a bylaw notice for having ‘unsightly premises’, and he was told to paint his home to “keep Ryley clean and attractive”,
Yarmovich is a retired contractor, so the 86-year-old started to do the work himself.
“It did need a paint job, I’m not denying that,” Yarmovich said.
“I didn’t need them to tell me what to do, I’d been a contractor for 35 years.”
He said he completed about a third of it, and told village officials he was working on it.
However, the work hit some snags; he fell off his ladder while he was scraping the old paint and broke his ribs, he said the weather did not cooperate and it rained often.
All that, plus his age: “I’m 86-years-old, the motor gives out a little,” he said, and he missed the deadline set by the village.
As a result, his home was painted for him – and officials sent him a bill for the work, totaling $3,400.
Ryley Home before
Ryley Home after
Bill Yarmovich's home before it was painted, and after.
After with interest and fees accumulated, the bill grew to more than $4,000.
“$4,000 does not grow on trees,” Yarmovich said.
CTV News tried to contact the village for comment, and have been told the village is waiting for legal counsel.
The village bylaw used in this case states: “No property owner shall allow any building…to become an unsightly premise.”
In the village, there are a number of other properties that look to be in a similar state to Yarmovich’s home before it was painted – including one with missing siding, that is reportedly owned by a village councillor, and residents say it has been in that state for years.
At least one resident who spoke with CTV News said the village took the wrong approach in this case.
“You can’t just go and do something to someone else’s house, that’s just not right,” Joan Kischook said.
For Yarmovich, he’s had to sell his home in order to pay the debt. He said he would like to get his money back, but right now he’s focused on leaving the village.
“I feel they owe me the money that they charged me,” Yarmovich said. “But I don’t care, I just want out.”
With files from Dan Grummett
UPDATE (21/02/17): The Village of Ryley released a statement on February 21, 2017. Read it in full here.

'Just not right': Pensioner sells home to pay for forced paint job

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Man sells home to pay for cost to paint it
A Ryley, Alberta man says he's had to sell his home, after municipal officials painted it for him, and then charged him thousands of dollars.



Josh Elliott
Josh Elliott,

Published Tuesday, February 21, 2017 8:36AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:24PM EST
An 86-year-old pensioner says he had no choice but to sell his home after he was charged $4,000 for a paint job he did not ask for.
Bill Yarmovich says his home was painted without his permission, because he failed to meet a deadline set by the village of Ryley, Alta. When the village sent him the bill, he says he had no choice but to sell his freshly-painted home to "get this debt off my neck."
"Four thousand dollars doesn't grow on trees," Yarmovich told CTV Edmonton on Monday.


Bill Yarmovich
Yarmovich, 86, said he tried to paint his home himself, but it rained, and he broke some ribs after he fell off a ladder.
Sold home in Ryley
Bill Yarmovich said he had to sell his home in Ryley, Alberta, after the town painted his home, then charged him $3,400 for it.
The retired contractor, who lives alone on his pension, says he tried to comply with village requests, but other things got in the way.
"I'm 86 years old. The motor gives out a little," he said.
The village of Ryley ordered the house painted after Yarmovich failed to comply with two orders to get it done himself, issued on Apr. 24, 2015, and June 1, 2016. The village says the paint job was necessary to "keep the village of Ryley clean and attractive."
A photo of the house taken before the paint job shows most of the white paint peeled away, revealing old, grey wood underneath.
"I started it. I did a third of it," Yarmovich said. But he broke his ribs while painting in 2015, and wasn't able to finish the job. "I fell off the ladder and I was a little bit incapacitated," he said.
Yarmovich added that 2016 was a rainy year, so he wasn't able to meet the deadline when it was extended to July 1.
The village bylaw says "no property owner shall allow any building… to become an unsightly premise."
However, CTV Edmonton identified several homes in the village that might easily be deemed unsightly. One home had a great deal of peeling white paint, and several metre-high tree stumps still in the ground along the edge of the sidewalk.
Another home had an unfinished side wall that neighbours say has been covered by tarps and plastic for years.
The home belongs to a village councillor.
Village officials sought legal counsel and released a statement through their lawyers on Tuesday.
They outlined the steps taken to urge Yarmovich to paint his home, and say he was given 16 months to do so. They also disputed his claim that a third of the house was painted, instead saying it was “eight or ten boards on the east gable.”
The village said Yarmovich also turned down an offer for a payment plan.
Yarmovich's neighbour, Joan Kischook, was happy to offer her opinion.
"You can't just go and do something to somebody else's house," she said.
"That's just not right."

Bill Yarmovich, Alberta Senior, Says He Was Forced To Sell Home To Cover Ryley Village's Cost For Painting It

The Huffington Post Alberta  |  By Michelle Butterfield
Posted: 02/21/2017 2:01 pm EST Updated: 02/21/2017 2:01 pm EST
An Alberta senior claims he had to sell his home to cover the cost of a painting bill forced upon him by village officials.
Bill Yarmovich, 86, told CTV News that he tried to paint his house himself in 2015 after the Village of Ryley sent him a bylaw notice for "unsightly premises."
Because of his age, the work was slow-going. Yarmovich managed to get started on the project, but slipped off his ladder and broke a couple ribs.
The village council took mercy on him and extended the deadline to have the painting finished, he told Global News.
Yarmovich talks to CTV News about the painting bill. Story continues below:
However, while his ribs were healing, he said bylaw officers gave him a ticket for tall grass; Ryley has a "community standards" bylaw that requires homes' exteriors and properties be kept neat and tidy.
The village then "got somebody to cut the grass. Charged $200 for a job that’s worth $25," he told Global News.
Still, Yarmovich persevered. He paid the ticket and in the summer of 2016 was back to painting his house.
However, heavy rain left him unable to paint for most of the summer, he said, and the deadline set out by the village passed.
When he hadn't finished painting his house, reports the Tofield Mercury, the village arranged to have a crew do it.
View image on Twitter
William Yarmovich says he knew his house needed painting, and was working on it. Just not fast enough for the village of Ryley.

"$4,000 does not grow on trees," he told CTV News.
Yarmovich he looked into government assistance to help cover the invoice, but when it was not available to him, he had no choice but to sell his home.
"Luckily, a guy was interested and he bought it, which was a relief. Even though, I basically gave it away, it was a relief," he said in a Global interview.
bill yarmovich home
A photo from the Kijiji sale listing shows Bill Yarmovich's home with the fresh coat of paint. (Photo: Kijiji)
The Elder Advocates of Alberta Society says it's looking into the case, and has asked the Village of Ryley to consider waiving the painting fees and to return the lawn-mowing fine, reported the Tofield Mercury.
Ryley residents expressed their dismay at council's actions on the Tofield Mercury's Facebook page.
"So heartbroken for this old guy, seriously he broke ribs trying to comply with the order to paint his home...where did all the good helpful neighbors go?" asked Jenny Schultz.
"I think the village needs to help seniors. I think the government of Alberta needs to provide help to seniors who are in such difficulties. This poor man. I can't imagine how the village would be so indifferent to his plight. It's shameful. Just shameful," wrote Julie Ali.
The Village of Ryley is located about an hour's drive east of Edmonton.

Mayor of Ryley, Alta., defends decision to charge senior for house painting

Mayor of Ryley, Alta., defends decision to charge senior for house painting
The mayor of an Alberta village where an 86-year-old man says he was forced to sell his home after getting a $3,285 bill from the city for painting its “unsightly” exterior is sticking by the decision.

Mayor of Ryley, Alta., defends decision to charge senior for house painting

Ryley mayor stands by decision
The mayor of the Village of Ryley says she’s standing by a decision to bill a senior $4,000.
Man sells home to pay for cost to paint it
A Ryley, Alberta man says he's had to sell his home, after municipal officials painted it for him, and then charged him thousands of dollars.


64 Staff
Published Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:12PM EST
The mayor of an Alberta village where an 86-year-old man says he was forced to sell his home after getting a $3,285 bill from the city for painting its “unsightly” exterior is sticking by the decision.
Village of Ryley Mayor Lavonne Svenson said the bylaw staff member who hired a contractor last September to paint Bill Yarmovich’s house made the correct decision.
“The bylaws we establish are evenly applied to everyone,” Svenson told CTV Edmonton.



Mayor Lavonne Svenson
Ryley Mayor Lavonne Svenson spoke to CTV News on Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
A house missing siding in Ryley, Alta.
A house missing siding in Ryley, Alta.
Bill Yarmovich
Yarmovich, 86, said he tried to paint his home himself, but it rained, and he broke some ribs after he fell off a ladder.
“I know that Mr. Yarmovich had received many offers of help, he had many opportunities,” she added.
Svenson said that there have been “a lot of inappropriate comments directed at our village” since Yarmovich told reporters about why he says he sold his house.
Locals residents have suggested the unsightly premises bylaw has not been evenly enforced, pointing to a number of houses with peeling paint and one that they say has, for years, been missing siding.
The house missing siding is owned by a former mayor and local councillor. Svenson said the councillor in question has “received notices” and is “working with bylaw enforcement staff.”
The village issued a lengthy written statement Tuesday that said hundreds of similar notices have been issued “to people of various ages, financial situations and life styles” since the bylaw was passed in 2015.
“With regards to any allegation of elder abuse, the Village of Ryley strongly denies such a claim,” it said.
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Dan Grummett