From jail to junk removal: a tale of dreams, love and property law

After getting out of jail, Len McGinnis decided to invest his time and money in a Porter Creek property that doesn’t belong to him.

After getting out of jail, Len McGinnis decided to invest his time and money in a Porter Creek property that doesn’t belong to him.

Over the last three months, he’s rented heavy equipment and removed dozens of cars and tons of scrap from Backcountry Corners, at 92038 Alaska Highway, across from the Rabbit’s Foot Canyon entrance to Porter Creek.

McGinnis claims to have spent tens of thousands of dollars of his own money in the process.

The only thing he wants in return is for the owner of the 2,700-square-metre property, Jacine Fox, to give him the land title so he can start an auto body shop there.

“We’ve (he and girlfriend Nicole Lamb) removed 80 tonnes of scrap and garbage,” said McGinnis, taking a break on his Bobcat excavator on Tuesday.

“There’s probably another 30 to 40 tonnes left that will have to be removed at a considerable cost.

“I’ve taken out, like, 130 cars.”

The situation at Backcountry Corners is a little complicated.

Bylaw officers have listed the country-residential property, which is strewn with cars, leaky oil patches, a pair of dilapidated houses, several trailers, and scores of machine parts, as a hazard that must cleaned up.

The property has an appraised value of $29,000, but the city has pegged clean-up costs at between $25,000 and $50,000.

Fox never hired McGinnis and isn’t renting him the motor home or shack he’s staying in on her property.

And, over the past few years, it’s been hard to nail down who is actually legally responsible for cleaning up the mess because the name on the land title keeps changing.

The property was Murray Freeman’s, a former junk collector who allowed people to leave their vehicles and machine waste on the property over a period of 17 years.

It became Fox’s after Freeman signed the title over to her in 2006, the same year the city got a court order that would have forced Freeman to clean up the mess.

Over 10 years ago, the city started demanding Freeman clean up.

But Freeman wasn’t making enough money as a junk dealer to pay for it, he said on Tuesday.

Freeman gave Fox the property in 2006 because he “was tired of it.”

He’s not sure how Fox feels about McGinnis living and working on her property — she no longer returns Freeman’s phone calls.

But, those details don’t bother McGinnis.

After making some poor choices and doing time recently, a topic he didn’t want to elaborate on, McGinnis is turning his life around.

And it’s all starting at Backcountry Corners, he said.

“Maybe Jacine (Fox) will pay me, and if not, then she better sign over the title. Well, she should sign over the title, I should say.

“Either pay the bill or sign the title.”

So far, he estimates the project has cost him $180,000 in labour, equipment rentals and dump fees.

That figure will likely hit $250,000 before the job is done, he said.

“Everything is calculated, right down to the hour.”

He started doing the clean up as a favour to Freeman; in exchange Freeman was going to help him legally secure the property, said McGinnis.

“(Freeman) was in a bind. He had 100-plus vehicles and the city was about to put the squash on him, so I did him a favour,” he said.

“In exchange he’s going to help me with any situations in court, legal situations.

“He’s been here forever. He knows how to play shadow games really good.”

Lamb is proud of her boyfriend. He’s come a long way since getting out of jail, she said.

“He got out with one vehicle, now we’re up to 15 vehicles and a big property, which is good.

“It’s a big change for him. I’m even shocked.”

She’s really looking forward to McGinnis starting his business, added Lamb.

Opening an auto-body shop at Backcountry Corners may not be as easy as erecting a building and hanging a shingle, said Pat Ross, the city’s subdivision and lands co-ordinator.

The property is zoned country residential, so there would have to be a zoning change and a change to the city’s Official Community Plan before a shop could be set up, he said.

Also, the practice of having activities on the property extend into the environmentally protected area it borders would have to stop, added Ross.

“We’ve had that discussion with (McGinnis).”

The property owner would also require a business licence, said Ross.

Freeman previously had a business licence but hasn’t had one for five years, said city bylaw manager John Taylor.

But, business licences are not the main concern at the moment.

Neither is the answer to the question of whether Fox should be made aware that McGinnis is living on her property and cleaning it up.

That’s not the business of the bylaw department, said Taylor.

“All we’re concerned with is that the property is cleaned up,” he said, explaining that Backcountry Corners was in violation of the city’s maintenance bylaw.

Taylor presented his plan for clean up to city council on Monday. The plan is to allow McGinnis to continue cleaning up the property.

But if work stops, Kearah Environmental Contracting Inc. will finish it and the estimated $25,000 to $50,000 bill will be sent to Fox, he said.

Fox could not be reached for comment.

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Yukon paleontologists Grant Zazula (left) and Elizabeth Hall (right) examine mammoth fossils in Whitehorse on June 10. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mammoth bones discovered at Dawson mine site

“So this is just a start, hopefully, we’re going to be learning a lot.”

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker plead guilty to offences under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Couple who broke isolation rules to get vaccines in Beaver Creek fined $2,300

Crown and defence agreed on no jail time for Rod and Ekaterina Baker

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

It’s been a long time since most Yukoners have seen downtown Skagway. (Andrew Seal/Yukon News file)
What Canada-U.S. border changes could mean for Alaska travel

The federal government is expected to make an announcement on Monday

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
City building plans move forward

Council approves procurement going ahead

Most Read