REPORTING · 24th December 2014
Paul Lagace and several concerned residents stepped up to Council to present on behalf of the residents who live in the trailer parks on Monday, December 15th. They were requesting that Council adopt a policy which would protect their homes. Council was provided with a mishmash of policies from other communities.
“It’s been good to live and raise your family in Kitimat and we still live here. When we arrived in 74, the only place we could find to live was a 10X50 mobile home at Jed Stumps. We stayed there for about 4 years and then bought a 14X70 mobile home, moved to Vista Village, which already had its problems. Then the owner of Jed Stumps was pleased that we’d pay extra to have a double lot. We moved our home and trailer and lived there for 27 consecutive years. During our stay, we paved our driveway, made flower beds and a greenhouse and grapevines and planted cherry trees and numerous cedar trees which are doing well, built a raised garden so we can work it as we go older and did numerous upgrades inside the trailer,” said the representative resident living in Jed Stumps.
He stated while they cannot afford extensive holidays, they are able to enjoy their hobbies from their home while enjoying the low rent. They live with dignity. If they were forced to move and pay the inflated rents, their lives would change.
“If a part of the population is dumped on to make way for those coming in to take wealth out, how can that be for the good of all,” he said. “This is home. We worked to be able to stay here in our old age. Here we can enjoy our hobbies and fishing and, in an apartment, there would be no place for hobbies or parking a boat, but we could watch a lot of TV.”
The second resident was representing the residents from Vista Village. The message was that people were having problems trying to sell their homes. People have been evicted for doing nothing wrong as supported by recent arbitration decisions. Park rules have changed 3 times this year becoming more and more unreasonable with each change. Rumours are spreading that the trailer park is going to close and the residents are speculating on why. Residents are under stress.
“I get along well with the land lord at this point, but lots of times I wake up in the night wondering if I’m going to be the next one on the eviction list for no apparent reason,” he said.
He said he runs his own business but he would not be able to afford to live in Kitimat if the trailer park closed.
“There are a lot of older people in the trailer park who have no place to go and no protection whatsoever. These folks I worry about the most. Some of our homes may not be much to look at but it’s all we have. Some of them really nice too. I respectfully remind you that we are not only home owners, we are taxpayers,” he told Council.
He expressed if the park closes, they would only get three months pad rent which would not leave them with much money in exchange for their house. Some of them cannot be moved and there is no place to move them through. He asked Council for protection and a place to live. However the park residents should not lose everything as a result.
“The 2014 Kitimat Housing Action Plan states the two mobile home parks on Columbia Street are potentially vulnerable to redevelopment,” said Lagace. “Redevelopment has already been discussed openly at one trailer park and possibility at the other trailer park has very credible support.”
He told Council this is why they want them to consider several policy changes to provide the protection that 84 home owners need. He stated 23 communities have adopted similar policies because the policies in the manufactured home park tenancy act do not do much to compensate displaced tenants.
Lagace explained when these initial policies were forged, it was under the assumption that trailers could easily be moved to another lot. However, he said this is not the case.
“The point is, we are asking: The District of Kitimat Council will only consider rezoning and redevelopment of these two mobile home parks that address these polices. Two of the highlights here are: Prior to final consideration of any rezoning applications, the proponent of any mobile home park redevelopment application needs to submit what will call, a tenant financial assistance and relocation plan for the relocation or compensation of park tenants and address individual tenant needs and how this plan is put in place,” said Lagace.
This means they would have to pay for the moving of a mobile home or its disposal if it cannot be relocated. Compensation also means payment equal to the assessed value of the manufactured home. This helps tenants who’s homes cannot be moved or wish to leave the mobile home life style.
In addition, one of the program components needs to be the creation affordable housing to allow displaced tenants to stay on the site. Notice to tenants should be two years from the day of the development application.
Finally, he asked that all policy and agreements are met before Council considers any form of redevelopment.
“What is affordable housing in Kitimat? The only affordable housing I’m aware is at the trailer parks and they are in a very precarious situation,” said Lagace. “There is a lot of folks here from the two trailer parks. It should be mentioned there is a lot more supporters but some were scared to come.”
Councillor Clair Rattee expressed the Council has to deal with this in a timely matter because the people who are living in the trailer parks are in danger of being evicted for simply standing up to their landlords.
Acting Mayor Mario Feldhoff stated they had made some meaty requests which Council had yet to have staff report on. City Planner, Gwen Sewell stated this is one of the policies which they are looking at for early 2015 and the information which was given was useful for crafting policy language.
It was suggested to Council by the delegation from the trailer courts that they should include people from the trailers when they craft the language of their policies so they could hear what the tenants are experiencing and why they are there. Council was reminded the people living in the trailer court currently have homes.
Councillor Rob Goffinet expressed Council was attempting to come to grips with what the residents of the trailer park are going through.
Later in the meeting, Council went through 11 recommendations which they will be playing a role in, which emerged from the Housing Action Plan. Three recommendations were identified as priority, the mobile park policy being one of them. Council was told they will take the content of the plan proposed into consideration once it has been reviewed by staff. The other two which they would like to cover are a bylaw on the standards of maintenance and affordable rental policy.
Acting Mayor Mario Feldhoff expressed the standards of maintenance was one he had to question because he felt they could be making things worse with the bylaw. Council was told they would be asked to consider it once staff has done some research on it.
Councillor Clair Rattee asked if there was land where the District could build a trailer park. Council was told there are developers who could do this, subject to rezoning.
Councillor Larry Walker expressed concern about a recommendation to advise industry on the living out allowance. He stated expressing their opinion to large industry about how the Council feels about a living out allowance was fair game, but when they legislate it, they are controlling who gets to rent their property and how much it is rented for. He felt this was best left to free enterprise. Feldhoff was concerned that by having standards of maintenance bylaw would increase costs to renters.
Council advised staff to move forward on each of the recommendations on the housing action plan.
trailer park protection
Comment by j.s. on 24th December 2014
what shouild be done is the council should say no to rezoning and no to evictions . these developers should not be allowed to disrupt the lives of all these people soleley to rake in as much money as the can at the expense of these peoples lives,and the lives of their pets wich mostly everyone would have to give up their pets this would be nothing short of a disaster for the people living there, they haave the money let them by land and develope ware their not going to destroy these peoples lives .merry christmas kitimat.