Some mobile home park owners say a recent decision by city council could lead to fewer lots in Brandon — a community that already has virtually no such vacancies.
On Monday, Brandon City Council decided to ask the provincial government to consider increasing the amount paid to evicted trailer court tenants.
Kingsway Kort compensationKingsway Kort residents have until Monday to accept a compensation package from the developer looking to evict the mobile home park tenants.In a package sent to residents sent earlier this week, Brandon Evergreen Enterprises, Inc. offered a "limited one-time offer" of $2,500 to each homeowner and a rebate of rental fees from October 2013 until June 2014 -- extending the deadline from May.Brandon Evergreen announced last month it had purchased the land to develop a high-density residential area.According to the documents, if residents don't agree to terminate their tenancy through this latest deal, they will receive a formal six-month eviction notice along with the provincially required $500 to cover moving expenses.Resident Matt Dickinson said he thinks about half of the more than 50 homeowners are taking the package, but he doesn't think he will."I'd rather take a $10,000, $15,000 loan (to move) than sell my dignity for a third of the cost it's going to be," he said.After the developer told outraged Kingsway Kort residents last month they had until May to find a new place to live, homeowners have been fighting for more money.Dickinson, a new homeowner, said he's looking to move to Boissevain once his lease runs out in May.According to the application to the City of Brandon, the request for rezoning has been made by Kitsilano Laneway Housing Ltd. of Vancouver. However, the company is developing locally under the name Brandon Evergreen Developments.The plans brought forward by the company include 10 four-unit townhouses, as well as an amenities building and sales office.The 11-acre site includes Kingsway Kort Modular Home Park at 1640 Sycamore Dr. and 21 Willowcrest Ave., which is currently vacant.» Brandon Sun
If the province decides to significantly increase the amount, it will mean bigger costs for landowners who want to either eventually sell their properties or change their use, said Ken Templeton, owner of Highland Park and White Swan trailer courts.
“If something like this is looming, we’re going to have to rethink our business plan,” Templeton said.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst — who has said in the past mobile homes are an important part of the city’s affordable housing plan — tabled the motion on Monday to get the attention of the province, which she said “has been blind” to the plight of displaced mobile homeowners.
The Residential Tenancies Act was changed in 2010 to address moving costs, but Decter Hirst said the changes did little to help with the costs of moving a mobile home, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.
Decter Hirst’s motion struck the iron that was first made hot by the upcoming eviction of more than 50 Kingsway Kort residents, who were told they had to make way for a condo development by May.
“Recent events in Brandon have spotlighted a serious weakness in the moving allowance and other benefits provided (in the) Residential Tenancies Act,” Decter Hirst said on Monday evening.
With wait lists in the city getting longer, there’s little desire to develop new parks in the city.
Making it more expensive to change a mobile home park to something else “would be a detraction for a developer,” said Phil Hall, owner of Brentwood Hills Estates.
“But the big hang-up here is that there’s no place to go. The cost may be the secondary point,” he said. “Where do you put these people?”
When asked for a response to council’s decision from the Department of Housing & Community Development, provincial spokesperson Rachel Morgan simply said “we are aware of the Brandon City Council motion and are considering it.”
Decter Hirst’s motion didn’t pass without some concern from city councillors, including Stephen Montague (Richmond), who represents Kingsway residents.
During debate, Montague said he wants the city to approach the landowners for input about the idea.
“They’re running a business, they’re good people, but there could be ramifications of this passed down to the business if this were to go through, so I’d be much more comfortable with this going forward with more consultation down in the first place,” he said.
Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) also raised concerns on Monday that the city could be overstepping its bounds by asking the province to open up the act.
“This looks like a deterrent to anyone going into a mobile home park as a developer,” Fawcett said. “It also sends the message that mobile home park owners or landlords are not good people.
“I do think it may be overstepping of our bounds, but certainly we’ll mention it to both our MLAs to inquire into.”
According to Decter Hirst, there are around 1,500 residents in Brandon living in mobile homes.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 21, 2013