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REPORTING · 6th January 2015
Walter McFarlane
A decision which faced the Kitimat City Council on Monday, January 5th regarded writing off property taxes for Trailer J7 at 653 Columbia Street. Council was advised to request permission from the Minister to write off the taxes and penalties for this trailer.

“This trailer is derelict and has been abandoned. The Trailer Park Owner is awaiting tax write-off in order to demolish it. It is not economic to take this property at tax sale and court action would likely cost more than any possible recovery,” wrote Steve Christiansen, City Treasurer in the report for Council.

During the part of the meeting where members of the public can present to Council on any of the items on their agenda, Paul Lagace, Housing Resource Worker got up to address this issue.

He explained the current owner of the trailer had bought and moved into it in April, 2012. 9 months later, the individual whom he bought it from was issued a letter saying the trailer was not up to electrical code and so he could not have sold the trailer to the person. Due to this, the tenancy was not transferred to the new owner of the trailer.

When the tax sale happened, the landlord testified the current owner is behind in rent. Lagace said what really happened was the current owner was evicted on a technicality, for not responding to the notice of eviction within 10 days. While this was considered a fair decision, this meant the owner had to sell his trailer immediately. Fortunately, he found a buyer.

Then the Buyer came into the Housing Office. He had spent $5,000 to fix up the trailer and was about to give the money to the current owner. However, there were rules in the trailer court which the owner of Vista Village informed him of.

“First he had to have tenants, then he was not allowed to have tenants. Then he was told he had to remove the trailer. This is reported by the buyer. The grounds maintenance person told him that if he did not move the trailer upon buying it, it would be destroyed or burned to the ground,” said Lagace. “But he did show up with $5,000 worth of building supplies and was thrown off the property.”

He was advised to call the RCMP.

Lagace told Council the Trailer Court rules for Vista Village have changed four times over the last year. Some of them have been deemed ‘unconscionable’ and ‘grossly oppressive and unfair’ for what buyers had to complete to sell a home. Recently, the entire section was struck from the park rules.

Lagace quoted one hearing: “The terms on this particular park row on home sales are so unclear and so out of reach that its application to all tenancies may never allow any person to sell their manufactured home at any time.”

The owner of the park was cautioned by the buyer that in the case of the trailer in question, she could end up investigated if he filed for Loss of Quiet Enjoyment.

Lagace suggested that Council engage in discussion concerning what is going on at the Trailer Court. “Something needs to be done about the treatment. This man that was on the phone today is out of money. He is the victim here. The owner of the park is not the victim here,” said Lagace.

Mayor Phil Germuth asked if the owner of the trailer was able to rent out the place or sell it to pay off his taxes. He was told he could, as he was evicted on a technicality. This person, however, has left town, as he chose to walk away from his trailer, like other homeowners who were renting spaces in the park have chosen to do as well. Lagace pointed out the trailer owner was denied tenancy and it was not an issue until Vista Village decided to throw him out.

Germuth asked if the trailer was unlivable. He was told by Christiansen that while the trailer is livable, the ceiling has been damp and is coming down in several places. It is not in good shape. No one is living there and the last two owners have not paid their taxes.

He said they could try to collect taxes through the courts and search to find these people and it would cost more than it would gain.

Later in the meeting, Kitimat Council determined they were going to table the item until they have a written report from Lagace, Staff and the Landlord of Vista Village. The tabling motion was carried.