Love Me or Hate Me – Part 4

My name is Josh Morrow, and this is Part 4 of my story. As you all know, nothing happens overnight and when someone has dreams and ambitions, time and finances are the biggest factors affecting those results. The rental market here in Prince Albert is one of the hardest anywhere in the Country. As a young man who looked up to his grandfather and the success he had acquiring land, I realized the importance of owning property. Comfortably, I can say that from a young boy this was repetitively programmed into my thought process. I love the farm lifestyle which I was fortunate enough to have on both my mother and fathers’ side. One side had the grain and potato operation and the other ran cattle. The best memories I have to this day are being out on the fields running a combine or tilling the land, family brandings, and moving cattle from pasture to pasture, or learning how to repair broken equipment with whatever parts and tools were available at the time. I believe that the good farmers of today’s world are incredible people who are masters in many professions. You must be a jack of all trades to succeed and that is something I will always admire. I developed a real, honest and dedicated work ethic because of the experiences I had there. Since land was incredibly expensive where I grew up, I purchased a small farm north of Prince Albert about 14 years ago. That was the starting point for my fascination and interest in the City. I followed the method of slow and continuous acquisitions of apartment buildings, residential homes and land. Just as so many foreign families must have felt in the 1900’s immigrating to Canada I too felt as if I had packed up my life and invested everything I had into a foreign land. Unfamiliarity is a scary thing, but it’s something that you just have to push through if you want to be successful. Four years ago, I was continually harassed on some of the properties I owned and how poor they looked and I will never argue or deny the condition of those properties. If you were one of the people who were affected by them, I sincerely apologize. I am not just saying that as empty fluff, I truly mean it. I would never intentionally do something to decrease the value of your home, put you in an unsafe position with horrible tenants or run down and degrade an area within the community. My degree is in land reclamation and it is something I truly have a passion for. Taking something from a state of complete disrepair and either rejuvenating it or removing it is incredibly rewarding. Frankly, I am addicted to it. I have no doubt that when you repaint your fence, replace a rotted deck, weed the garden or renovate an outdated room in your home you feel that exact same thing as I do when it’s completed. I had a strong desire to purchase old drug and gang infested properties. Why? Well I really believed that I could make a difference here. I would either repair them or if they were unsalvageable, destroy them and remove them from our community. It would have made a great show on TLC if it was produced. I thrive on challenges and can tell you firsthand; this is not for the faint of heart. Some of those homes were hard to imagine. It reminded me of when I would enter the chicken coop on a hot summer day where your eyes would water and your lungs would burn. Trying hard not to step on needles, touch anything that would make you sick or step in human excrement. Those are the realities of these type of homes. The sheer cost of acquiring the home, disconnecting services, pulling permits, prepping the site for demolition, heavy equipment costs, trucking and dump fees, the cost to backfill, and finally the leveling and recontouring of the lot are all huge expenses. In some instances, the demolition cost is higher than the home and lot combined. I can proudly say that as of July 15, 2020 I have completed each and every demolition I had committed to. I had a small celebration with my family and my little guy joined me in the excavator to complete the final stages and wrap up the project. 9 homes and almost half a million dollars later I did exactly what I promised. These properties are no longer receiving hundreds of calls per year to our over worked police officers and no longer involved in stabbings, shootings or criminal activity. These areas are now one step closer to where they need to be. The next project that I committed to was the restoration and revitalization of an apartment complex in a beautiful area of town. I want every resident and homeowner within a 2 block radius from that building to know that from the bottom of my heart I appreciate your patience, as I continually worked toward financing and raising the capital to restore it. Those days are over and as you have noticed, the residents and appearance of this property will not only make the street safer, it will make our community more appealing and add value to your home. Did I bite off more than I could chew at 26-years old? Heck yah. Without a doubt I did. The lesson here is to not lose faith, do not quit during adversity and never lose sight of what you set out to accomplish. Stay persistent. My wish in writing this article is to encourage people to slow down their judgements and criticisms until they truly understand the full circumstances surrounding the issue. Trust is hard to earn and it very well should be. After years of continuous progress and following through on my commitments I hope this information brings you one step closer to earning that trust. Life is a journey and these experiences are always teaching me something. Don’t make the same mistake twice, learn from it and make sure you do better the next time around. With all the negatives in the world today, lets notice the good that people are doing within our community. Point it out and give them a little encouragement. I can say firsthand it inspires me to do more and fills the tank of hope when it runs a little dry. Share that with others because it is remarkably infectious. Love me or hate me you’ll want to follow next Thursday’s edition for part 5.