‘It’s killing me’: Mother of Chilliwack hoarder faces city action
CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:50PM PDT
Chilliwack officials are calling it one of the worst cases of hoarding in the city’s history.
Piles of bags, dirty tissues, stacks of paper, and bags of garbage litter the home of 91-year-old Pauline Jollymour – a home she shares with her 56-year-old son Gary, a hoarder.
“You can’t even sit down in the house,” Pauline said. “It’s the worst mess that I could even think of. I’ve had 90 years and this is the worst time of my life – my golden years turned to a hard rock.”
Gary, who struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, started to collect more items several years ago, becoming more attached to his things as time went on.
“Just progressive accumulation, really,” he told CTV News. “And attachment to certain things that I also contributed. Things just piled up.”
The problem snowballed, and soon mother and son were dwarfed by towering piles of junk throughout their house.
Now, Chilliwack’s city council and fire department have taken notice and are taking steps to solve the problem – with or without help from the Jollymour’s.
“We understand that it is a fire hazard. Our fire department has been urging her to clean up,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “You just want to give Mrs. Jollymour respect, but when it gets to the place where it’s a serious fire and health and safety issue, then the city has to step in.”
Chilliwack fire officials have been working with the homeowner for six years after multiple complaints from neighbours. They say the home is a severe fire risk. Scorch marks can even be seen on some of the cabinets in the house’s kitchen.
Meanwhile, council has recently voted to forcibly clean up the residence. But because the city only has authority over the home’s exterior, Pauline and Gary could remain trapped in their ongoing nightmare – unless they get help.
Gary sent city hall a letter earlier this year trying to stop the order to clean up the house. He wants to buy time while he and his mother seek counseling.
“To me it’s just like putting the cart ahead of the horse,” he said. “I mean, I was hoping for things to work out before it got to this point but now the city’s really pushing and things are a mess trying to do that and then deal with them too.”
Both Pauline and Gary said they want help from the city – they just don’t want to be judged.
“How hard is it on me? It’s killing me,” she said. “I’m blaming myself for a lot of it, because I should’ve taken action before."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Norma Reid