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Military pledges to finish home renovations for wounded Edmonton soldier

07/04/2015 11:22 EDT | Updated 07/04/2016 05:59 EDT
The Canadian Forces has pledged to complete the renovations to the house of a wounded Edmonton soldier, who was in danger of losing his home after a frustrating two-year struggle to get it outfitted for a wheelchair.

"No one should have to live and go through what we've had to go through," Sgt. Kevin Nanson, who lost the use of his legs in Afghanistan, told CBC News Friday.

Nanson was left a paraplegic by an improvised explosive device during his deployment in Panjwai with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 2008.

When he returned home, the military hired a contractor to renovate his Gibbons, Alta., home to accommodate a wheelchair.

In the meantime, Nanson, his wife and two daughters have been living in temporary housing waiting for the work to be done.

Two years later, their home is no closer to being ready.

"There's literally nothing in the house," Nanson said. "There's no siding on the outside of the house. Some walls don't have drywall on them.

"My basement floor doesn't have cement. There's no light fixtures, no sinks, no toilets."

Nanson said even though the work was incomplete and inadequate, the defence department kept paying the contractor.

'Choose the lowest bidder'

"The contractor that they hired wasn't even an actual contractor at the time," Nanson said. "They obviously choose the lowest bidder and that's the guy we got."

"For years my daughter has attended school in the community of Gibbons," Nanson said. "Driving past her house two times a day, saying things like 'Daddy, are we ever going to move home?'"

About $137,000 remains in Nanson's compensation package and the quotes to finish the home are $280,000, not far from the estimates of the original work that ranged upwards of $300,000.

He said the Department of National Defence originally told him that he's on the hook for the cost of finishing the home.

Nanson said the stress has sent him back to his doctor with more problems.

"We as Canada should be almost perfect at this by now due to the amount of injured soldiers that we've had. This should be a well-oiled machine."

Military promises to pay for work

In a statement sent Friday night, after Nanson's concerns were publicized, the Canadian Forces said it would continue to pay for the work to the soldier's home.

"We recognize the stress and strain that has been placed upon the Nanson family and we will work with them to ensure this does not happen again," wrote retired major general Mike Ward, associate director general of Morale and Welfare Services for the military.

Ward said the home renovations would be completed to the original plan, and that Nanson's family would not have to pay for the work. The family would also be allowed to live in military housing and receive a "dual residency allowance" until the work is done. 

Ward promised that Nanson would not be released from the military until the work is done and he is able to move in.

"Our men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces have served our country with honour and distinction. It is our duty to treat them with respect and honour," he wrote.

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