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REPORTING · 12th February 2015
Walter McFarlane
The public hearing concerning the rezoning application for the Alexander Townhouses continued on Tuesday, February 10th. Steve Everitt was present at the Council Meeting to speak about the proposed bylaw change.

“Nobody, even the ones who live at Alexander, are against the proposal. The obvious solution to the Alexander problem which has festered for many years, is demolish and build new,” said Everitt.

He explained they knew something was coming. It was in the media, Council and others. Some people have an exit plan, some do not. What they need is a time to enact it. They were told there were going to be appropriate arrangements for the tenant.

The first contact which they received from the new owners was an eviction notice. It arrived on February 4th. One group of tenants will be evicted on March 1st, one group will be evicted on March 31st.

“This letter is not on the correct form to evict people under the tenancy act,” said Everitt. “They’ve circumvented the actual tenancy forms that they should have filled out.”

He explained one of the require boxes on the form is to have all the necessary approvals and permits as required by law to demolish or repair the unit.

“Even if it was on the proper form, it was mailed on the 27th of January. The Tennancy Act states that for an eviction notice to be served by mail or registered mail, it is deemed served on the fifth day,” said Everitt.

He told Council with February 1st being the fifth day, to give the full two months required, the eviction would have to take place in March or April.

“They said, as an early incentive to move out sooner, march 1st, they would give us $500 to move out early. The problem is, when you give a two month eviction, the first month you pay of those full months that you’re allowed, you pay one month and then the last month is free. They’re effectively giving the $500 of our own money back as a gift,” said Everitt.

He asked Council to hold the owners accountable because what they are saying in the media is different from what the owners are doing.

Councillor Rob Goffinet asked how many tenants were in the development. The answer was 8 families.

Councillor Larry Walker asked if they were still renting the townhouses. Everitt stated they are still paying money to the old owner. He asked about the sign to the care taker. He was told there is still an empty town house which they wish to rent out.

“It’s very confusing indeed,” said Everitt.

Councillor Clair Rattee asked if they were offered their damage deposit or pet deposit back. She was told this was not even a part of the letter.

Everitt told Council some of the people who are in the townhouses cannot afford some of the rents around town and may need financial assistance to move. He expressed $500 is an insult. The biggest concern is time because these things cannot be accomplished overnight.

Paul Lagace, on behalf of the Kitimat Housing Resource Project was the next to speak. He explained Council was promised by Coast to Coast for arrangements to be made to each tenant individually. The new owner, Dennis promised accommodation for the tenants at a Council Meeting in December. Councillor Mary Murphy expressed satisfaction the people who were renting would be moved into a facility.

“The District of Kitimat also had the understanding that Coast to Coast was going to develop a relocation plan for the existing tenants at Alexander. But the notice that the tenants received dated and mailed on January 27th this year said something completely contrary to what they were saying. Not only did Coast to Coast not come up with a plan for the existing tenants, they were not even willing to provide the existing tenants their most basic rights under the residential tenancy act,” said Lagace.

He stated this eviction notice would violate the tenancy act on several counts and contradicts what was stated publically by Dennis Vincent. He stated the tenants are asking for a relocation plan for the existing tenants. This could include moving expenses, trying to secure additional locations, asking what the tenants need and more time for the tenants to find a new accommodation.

“Please note that the existing tenants are not opposed to redevelopment here, they just want to be treated fairly and for Dennis Vincent to be a man of his word,” said Lagace.

He asked Council to delay rezoning change until legal requirements are met and a proper relocation plan is submitted and approved by Kitimat Council.

A presentation was given by Dan Condon, Architect for the project.

“I am completely in agreement with the tenants on this one. I’m going to go back to the owner and try to get them to act the way they said they were going to act because they’ve also said they are going to contact the tenants to me as well and I’m shocked that they haven’t. I’ll try to help that process along,” said Condon.

He informed Council the project has been modified. One of the apartment buildings has been removed, the apartment furthest away from the road. It has been converted to a park area and snow dump area. They have also increased the parking ratio as well. The snow dump area will also be paved to act as a parking lot. This would drop the project to twelve units.

He explained they put it at the back of the property to create a large area without getting in the way of anything.

One final presenter, Eli Abregel had a question about whether the apartments would be individually titled, for sale or if they were rental properties. Condon stated they were intended to be rental units. The owners were also talking about having half for sale, but this would require an entirely different application to go before Council.

The final thing for Council to do was to determine whether to adjourn the public hearing or adjourn it to a later date. Councillors Rattee, Goffinet and Walker asked for further things to be in place before approving it.

Acting Mayor Mario Feldhoff asked if a Tenant Relocation plan would address their concerns.

“I’m slightly uncomfortable because if we get that tenant relocation plan, the public hearing has been adjourned and some member of the community is not satisfied with it, they won’t be able to come forward and say so,” said Rattee. “I feel like we’ve been lied to.”

Council was told they could have the relocation plan be a part of the development permit which would follow the application.

Feldhoff expressed there were still opportunities but he respected the wishes of Council. The Public Hearing was Adjured to Monday, February 23rd at 7:30 pm.