BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
A development sign stands adjacent to the Kingsway Kort mobile home park in Brandon's south end on Friday. The deal to redevelop the property has been scrapped.
The West Coast developer that purchased a beleaguered south end trailer park last year — pushing residents off the property to make way for new residential development — breached the purchase agreement, according to the seller, and the deal has been scrapped.
This is yet another surprise in a year-long saga shrouded in anger and frustration for the 30-40 families still living in the neighbourhood after they were offered time-sensitive compensation last year by Vancouver-based Kitsilano Laneway Housing Ltd. — working under the name Brandon Evergreen for this deal — to move off the land to make way for new condominiums and apartments. The compensation included $2,500 and a rent rebate.
But even with the failed deal, Kingsway Kort Ltd. management said "it is clear that there is no turning back at this point," in a letter dated
"The park will still close down."
The notice to tenants cited old infrastructure, low lot rental rates compared to other parks and municipal zoning issues as the reasons it’s not viable to keep open.
Before the deal fell through, tenants were told they have until the end of 2014 to move, but it’s still unclear if that deadline remains.
Kingsway property owner Dan Cayer of Lethbridge, Alta. broke his year-long media silence on the now-failed deal, but declined to provide the nature of purchase breach.
"It would be a difficult thing to comment on legally," Cayer said in a phone interview with the Sun Friday.
He also couldn’t say if Brandon Evergreen will make good on the deal with those people who signed the compensation contracts and moved away. Brandon Evergreen has been working through a local lawyer who could not be reached for comment.
"We’re still trying to figure out what this all is going to mean because it totally took us off guard," Cayer said.
"Right now, we’re trying to figure out what will be the best for everybody ... but it is a matter of time before the park is closing."
He went on to say: "I don’t like this whole process, it’s tough on everybody, I care about the tenants of course, and I want to see the best for them."
But the saga isn’t over yet. Another purchaser put forward an offer Friday morning.
Dean Esler, owner of a local Boston Pizza restaurant, is the head of a committee of residents looking to buy the land — a deal which would result in residents owning shares of the owning corporation, meaning they would actually own the land on which their trailers stand.
He doesn’t live in the park, but both his mother and daughter do.
"We have financing in place, things are ready to go," Esler said. "All we’re waiting for by Tuesday at noon is to see if Mr. Cayer accepts the offer."
Included in the offer is the promise to get the area properly zoned for modular homes, an issue the small neighbourhood has grappled with for years. When the area was first vetted as a location for the Corral Centre several years ago, the owner at the time preemptively zoned the park as commercial. After the decision was made not to put the shopping complex there, the zoning never changed and no new homes could be brought in without conditional approval from the city for each new trailer. Last year, when Brandon Evergreen purchased the property, it was rezoned as high-density.
"This solves everyone’s problem. If people own their own property, you’ll see a lot of upgrades," Esler said. He also anticipates paving roads and adding street lighting.
He didn’t divulge the amount of the offer, but suspects it’s equal "to what he (Cayer) expected from Evergreen."
"The offer we put together is so simple and so easy, people can retain their affordable homes, he (Cayer) walks away with his money. I don’t know another way, this is a very sweet deal for everybody."
Cayer said he was unaware of the deal as of Friday afternoon, but didn’t rule out finding a new purchaser — though he said he wasn’t looking to sell when Brandon Evergreen first approached him.
"There’s lots of options available," Cayer said, "There’s probably about half-a-dozen options that can be done with the property and I guess, right now, I’m looking to see what is the best for the future for that area for Brandon."
But between now and Tuesday, the deal offers a glimmer of hope for residents in the otherwise frustrating chronicles of Kingsway Kort, including for Charlie Pangborn and his wife Tamara, Esler’s daughter.
The couple have had their Kingsway modular home on the market since November after they thought they had to get off the property.
While many people have been interested in the home itself, Charlie said no one has been able to find land in the Brandon area on which to put it.
"Everybody seems to like the trailer, they want it, but it’ll go weeks and weeks. They’re trying to find a spot (to put it), and I assume they just find something else to buy," he said.
The lack of trailer park vacancies in the area was a major concern for many Kingsway residents over the last year, with some having to travel as far as Boissevain and Maryfield, Sask., to find land.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 19, 2014