Best friends homeless in Amherst

Christopher Gooding
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LaPlanche Street fire destroys homeownership dream

AMHERST – A late night fire Saturday not only displaced one man, it torched the dreams of a new couple to the area trying to overcome a string of bad luck.

Aaron Price and his best friend Penelope Link were the owners of 42 LaPlanche Street, which burnt to the ground with such intensity it melted the siding on a home directly across the street while causing extensive damage to their 44 LaPlanche Street neighbour, displacing him from his home and his home business.

Speaking from their room at the Victorian Motel, Price and Link reveal they’ve been holed up in the motel three months before the fire destroyed their home.

“I had bought the house through an auction and the realtor told me it was ready to move into,” Price said. “He told me over the phone he would move right in, no problems.”

Only, that wasn't the case.

Price and Link, both from England, met in Quebec and became fast friends. They travelled together, worked on children books together and their bond has kept them strong during tough times. When living in Truro, Link developed post-cancer complications and Price sold off his belongings to raise the $20,000 they needed to relocate to British Columbia where Link could receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment. From her struggles with cancer, Link lost a portion of her jaw and her tongue, which was later reconstriucted, but still has an open wound on her neck which requires daily dressing.

Then, not long afterwards, Price came into a small inheritance – matching dollar for dollar what the pair had to come up with for her treatment.

“I thought, this was it. The cosmos or whatever were giving back to us.”

Price, 54 years-old, and Link, 63, searched online and found what the though would be a modest home they could live the remainder of their days in.

“It was what we were looking for when we bought the place. It was a duplex,” Price said. “I was going to live upstairs, Penny downstairs.”

Bought sight unseen, they soon learned they bought the proverbial money pit. Filth and mold, deteriorating walls and much more were in the way of Price and Link settling in. Their resources exhausted, the two set up in a motel room and for the past three months Price made the best of their situation, rolling up his sleeves and getting to work on renovating the place removing plaster, rebuilding walls and selling his car to pay for materials.

“I was working on it for three months with no power tools because there was no electricity,” Price said,

And there was also no insurance.

“No one would touch us because of the condition,” Price said.

Adding insult to injury, Price had just received notification last Friday he was approved for a grant to finish the renovations.

Then the fire happened.

“It was about 3 a.m. when [Amherst Town Councillor] George Baker was banging on our door, saying there was a fire at our place and we need to get up,” Price said. “There was like 45 fire fighters there, every cop car in town and about 200 people… and there was nothing we could do.”

Living on a combined income of $1,000, Price and Link feel without options. They’re grateful no one was injured but they don’t know where to go from here.

“I’m hurt by losing the house, but I’m really upset about not having a car. All the things I think I would have done differently if I’d known... it sucks. Penny and I have had hardships before but this was our opportunity to not pay rent, to get out of that cycle of renting and have a place of our own. It was a disgraceful condition but I was working on it everyday to make it a place we could live… how can it be we go through all this, all this effort and money and have nothing to show for it? We thought another three months and were going to be in our home.” 

The couple were off to town hall Monday to get their property reassessed and their taxes lowered before seeking out help to deal with the cleanup of the home that never was, which Price says he’ll have to do himself.

They’ll stay in their motel room for now, but with funds getting tighter and tighter, Price says it’s too soon to know what they will do.

Looking at a copy of the bible on the bed in front of him surrounded by the few belongings they have, though, he hopes like most would.

“We need a miracle. I bought a lotto ticket today, you know.”



Twitter: ADNchris

Geographic location: Amherst, 42 LaPlanche Street, 44 LaPlanche Street England Quebec Truro British Columbia

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Recent comments

  • Aaron Price and Penelope Link
    November 28, 2013 - 16:33

    We are not people who use facebook or twitter and have discovered this website by accident. Aaron and I sincerely appreciate all of the comments and concern for our well-being. It feels like having an arrow through one's heart. It will take a long time to recover. Aaron talked to the fire chief two days ago and was told that in his report to the police the fire was arson and a lot of accelerant had been used. What kind of person destroys not only a property but two lives?

  • darlene cotton
    November 26, 2013 - 09:51

    if donations of articals are being taken up ,please notify me,, I have some Christmas things they can have ,

    • katty chiasson
      November 27, 2013 - 01:21

      i set up a facebook page for these individuals, i am also going to be contacting a bank tomorrow to open up a account for them.

  • Barb R Estabrooks
    November 26, 2013 - 06:03

    Let's all out our hearts and hands and heads together and do something.

  • Barb estabrooks
    November 26, 2013 - 05:59

    Well. This is the Christmas miracle I got to get in on. C, mom everyone lets all get together and do something. Open to ideas lets all put our heads and hands and hearts all together and there is nothing we all can't do as a team

    November 25, 2013 - 22:11

    release the realators name ,,, i know wat to do from there,,inbox me if needed

  • Ryan Mitton
    November 25, 2013 - 19:15

    This is why you never buy a home without a home inspector first inspecting the property. Obviously the realtor is just like a car salesman, he just wants to make commission. Which is sad but is reality. Does anybody know if there is a way to give donations or if there is a group of people organizing a volunteer cleanup? If not I believe there would be a lot interested in helping. Possibly we could do a facebook page??

  • david marquardt
    November 25, 2013 - 19:13

    i have a house in AppleRiver NS that has a 36000.00 line of credit on it . the payment is 300.00 a month. i am moveing to VAN BC so the house is fully furneshed. would sighn it over to them lock stock and barrel. house is app at 45000 last year. willing to talk dave. pay it forward 902-392-2054

  • Vince Kennie
    November 25, 2013 - 17:29

    Let's forget the obvious as to what should of could have been the cause and get these people some immediate help, be it financial, items of clothing, food or whatever. I would like to know where one can donate to their well being,

  • jack
    November 25, 2013 - 17:25

    I am wondering if she works at walmart? And if so, why aren't they doing anything to help? At least have a donation box, especially so close to Christmas.

  • Jack on the Rocks
    November 25, 2013 - 15:41

    Anon,"needs work"did it say "needs all electrical"...release the So-Called "Realtor's"name....what a joke!!!

  • Anon
    November 25, 2013 - 15:12

    seems a little strange to not realize the place would be a fixer-upper. shows the place as having been sold for $15000 in august by royal lepage with the description "Duplex - Property needs work." still sad that the work put into it was for nothing.. I would still donate some $$ to this couple because that's what east-coast folk do.. you don't have to trick me into it, sheesh

  • Donald Parsons
    November 25, 2013 - 14:30

    Anything Have Been Set Up For Donations Of Any Kind!?

  • Jack Sprally
    November 25, 2013 - 14:11

    Sounds like that realtor should give up his/hers home in restitution.

  • Tom Gignac
    November 25, 2013 - 13:09

    I'm interested to know who the Realtor is that lied to them... move in ready huh? Sure doesn't sound like it to me if it can't even be insured. I think that Realtor shouldn't even be in business lying to this couple like that. Shame Shame

  • Mom Jeans
    November 25, 2013 - 12:49

    Has a fund been set up for this couple? I'd be willing to donate a few dollars.