Quebec man loses fight to keep home above gold mine
Ken Masse poses at his home in Malartic, Que. July 8, 2010. Masse faces expropriation after refusing to sell his house to make way for one of Canada's largest open-pit gold mines. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andy Blatchford)
Published Wednesday, August 4, 2010 1:11PM EDT
MONTREAL - A man who literally lives on a gold mine has been ordered by a Quebec judge to leave his home.
Ken Masse's childhood house is the last obstacle standing in the way of a multibillion-dollar mining project in the town of Malartic.
A Superior Court judge awarded Osisko Mining Corp. possession of Masse's home after the company requested an emergency court decision.
In a ruling presented Tuesday, Judge Robert Dufresne wrote that Masse's house is preventing key preparation work for the mining project from moving forward.
Masse had been scheduled to appear in court next month to fight a government expropriation order. He has been representing his mother, Mary Elizabeth Wilczynski, who owns the home.
The former Malartic municipal councillor says he turned down a $350,000 offer from Osisko for his $14,000 house.
According to court documents, the family had been seeking $1 million from the mining company.
Now they will receive compensation determined by a provincial tribunal in exchange for the home.
Masse was the lone holdout from a relocation project that saw Osisko buy out 204 of 205 homeowners in his neighbourhood, which sits on top of one of Canada's largest gold reserves.
Many of the houses were moved to another part of town, while others were destroyed.
Masse's ramshackle house, which family members only live in part time, sits alone in a vast wasteland of rock and sand as the mining project closes around it.
A spokeswoman for Osisko says the company had been trying to reach a deal with Masse and Wilczynski for the last three years.
"It's unfortunate for both sides to end up in court, in front of a judge, to solve the problem," Helene Thibault said Wednesday from Malartic, about 550 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
"But we are satisfied with the judgment."
Masse has said his fight wasn't about money, but about protecting his personal property rights and preserving his neighbourhood from a massive open-pit mine.
He also had plans to launch a class-action suit against Osisko and the Quebec government seeking more than $200 million to be divided between himself and his former neighbours.
The court decision says Masse could be forced off the property as early as Monday morning if he refuses to leave.