REPORTING · 16th October 2013
With the development going on in Kitimat, Some residents are still facing uncertainty of their future. With the purchase of Jed Stumps Estates, the people who have been living there, some for much of their lives, are looking at a potential eviction in two years. However, even this is uncertain.
On Tuesday, October 8th, they met with Anne Moyls, Kitimat’s Housing Resource Worker, Mayor Joanne Monaghan, Denise O’Neill from Kitimat Community Services Society and Daniel Martin, a representative from the District of Kitimat for a short information session. A representative of the new owner was supposed be in attendance, but they were not there.
“We got a letter from the trailer court, it’s been sold. We were worried, what happened, what’s going to happen with our homes, are we going to be moved to the other trailer court, are we going to be evicted, what was going on, some of us have been there a long time, it’s our home” said Avalene.
The letter told them there were plans but not when the plans were coming about and what they were. This led to plenty of gossip and hearsay. They were told by a representative of the investor, Eric Watson, there were no plans for the next year.
In talking with the other trailer court, the residents of Jed Stumps were told there was only room for 4 of their trailers.
“The Council is really pushing to get affordable housing done now, that we have one year to go. Hopefully, we can get something done in that period of time,” said Monaghan.
Avalene stated they have heard they would have to buy them out. They would have to give them one year’s notice and pay them a years’ worth of pad rent.
They needed to know if the Trailer Court had already been rezoned. Martin told them the land was zoned as a mobile home park.
“If someone wanted to redevelop it, they would have to submit an application to rezone it and that would come to the District and that would go before Council at a Public Meeting and we would then issue notice,” said Martin.
Once that happens, people would have an opportunity to write a letter and come before Council and Council would vote to approve the rezoning. Council would make the final decision on whether or not to rezone. Martin told them the only way they could fight it is by talking with the Council Members.
Once the land has been rezoned, the landlord could then issue 12 months’ notice. If Council turns it down, they cannot develop anything else and there would not be grounds to evict with cause. With land use controlled by the District so the new owners cannot go over their heads.
The application would have to go before Council, have a public hearing and have three readings before it can be adopted. It was compared to the process which the PTI Lodge went through. Monaghan stated it could take a month to a couple of months.
The residents brought their concerns forward, such as how many low income places will let them keep their pets, being able to keep their vehicles and even being approved for entry into another trailer court. It was pointed out old trailers could be rejected from a trailer court. Someone stated some trailer courts could not possibly power the trailers.
It was pointed out there was no land in Kitimat where they could move their trailers too and Monaghan was asked if there was some land the District could open up for a trailer court. With the LNG Speculation, it could get to the point where the average price of a home is out of the price range for people with low income.
“Doesn’t belong to us,” said Monaghan grimly. “RTA mostly. We own very little land.”
Another big concern was if they would be able to stay in Kitimat, because another option would be to move out of town and twelve months rent would not cover moving the home.
A question came forward about who was buying up much of the properties in town. Monaghan explained it was all the same investor who has consortiums who take care of these places. Monaghan was asked if she knew what the purposes for all of these buildings were. Monaghan stated she was told they did not know, they have a year to decide and they were in no hurry to do so. She added that not all of the purchases around town are connected.
The tenants came to the conclusion that they want to know how long they have. They feel they have a year’s time from the rezoning which could give them a year to a year and half to find out what their future holds. The rezoning could be approved, or it may not be approved by Council.
They could speak against it. However, what happens could depend on who is on Council at the time. One man pointed out money speaks louder and it could be looked at tearing down the court to put up something better.
O’Neill mentioned there are a lot of people in Kitimat right now who are working together to maintain important facets of the community. She was willing to stand with them and speak against this progression. They were told they are going to have to work together.
One person pointed out the Retire in Kitimat Campaign was pointless because there is no cheap housing and one of the two trailer courts was about to become non-existent.
Martin stated Council is concerned about the Housing Crisis in Kitimat and there were several meetings which were set up to find solutions. He was told it was something which should have been thought about in advance of the fliers advertising Retire in Kitimat were sent out.
Monaghan stated the Retire in Kitimat Campaign started because of the Methanex and Eurocan closures, when every house on the street was empty and Kitimat’s population was reduced to 8500. She told them at the time, the town was dying, the mall was empty and it was an attempt bring in people. Now that people are coming in, there is no place for them.
“They did to well,” laughed Monaghan.
It was stated by a resident they wanted the town to prosper, but not at everyone else’s expense. Another resident told them there was a gas plant planned for 2015 which would bring more people in.
People talked about the other subdivisions which are being worked on but came to the conclusion that a trailer would look out of place next to a newly built state of the art home.
Monaghan expressed there were a lot of things going on in town, but many of them are confidential and neither she nor the District of Kitimat could say anything about it. However, they were assured the District knows there are a lot of challenges which come with a boom.
The District was told this is not the first time this has happened and it appears companies are coming into the small towns and legislation was needed in the long run. Someone suggested the District put pressure on Rio Tinto to give up some land.
Monaghan said very bluntly: “A lot of the land that Rio Tinto owns now, they have a legacy agreement with the Haisla. They cannot sell it without the Haisla giving the go ahead. That’s what’s holding us back. We want to buy three lots down by Minette bay, so that we can provide our community with some water assets. We’ve been after it now for 3 and half years and we are still trying to get it from the Haisla through RTA.”
For the people of Jed Stumps, this uncertainty is going to bring them together, to work with the new owners and work with the District so they can find out what is going on. Monaghan gave them the word that when the new owner comes in, she will try and get a meeting with him.
She added she has been working with him, but most of the Councillors do not know who this person is.
Problem with Public Consultation Meetings
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 25th October 2013
As we witnessed with the PTI camp being built adjacent to the townsite, public consultation meetings do no good. I was at those meetings. Everybody who was truly just a citizen with no personal interest in it said, "NO!" It was loud and clear, but zoning language was changed and the camp was approved anyways. I'd like to see council say right up front, "We have no plan of changing the zoning for the trailer park. The people who bought it should have known that."
Comment by Jim on 18th October 2013
I agree this property was zoned for a mobile park and should stay that way. Not everyone works for Bechtel and its contractors and can afford the extreme rental rates , our longtime residents and seniors on fixed incomes are being forced out the homes they rent so the new owners can get the big dollars. For council to even consider a request to rezone such a property and displace people that can't afford it will definitely add to the housing crisis. Why hasn't council asked administration
to provide a report on how many citizens own and live in their homes in Kitimat and how many are rentals. ( this would be very simple to do as only
owners that live in their homes get the home owners grant) the rest are rentals. and compare it over a few years I think that they would be surprised at how many rental homes are in Kitimat
today and how many are owned by investors not living here and some that have never even been here to see their purchases . It might help give the some insight on the future housing crisis.
Comment by Pinnwheel on 16th October 2013
No to re-zoning!
Comment by M on 16th October 2013
Speak your mind to the council and vote no for rezoning this parcel. The community designated this land for mobile homes and it should stay that way! Can't wait till the public hearing - if there is one!