GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Residents of Kingsway Kort trailer park received notice to vacate by March 2014 after a developer purchased the land in the south end of the city.
There are few options for the soon-to-be displaced residents of Kingsway Kort.
The clock started ticking last week when residents of the south-end trailer park found out they have until March to find a new place to live after a Vancouver-based developer announced its plans to build four apartment buildings and a number of townhouses on the land.
There are no vacancies at any of the trailer courts in the city of Brandon and it’s unlikely a new park will pop up any time soon, according to one landowner.
Kenneth Templeton, owner of Highland Park and White Swan Trailer courts, said the laws at both the municipal and provincial level make it difficult for anyone to open a new park.
"The bylaws were put in place without consulting the mobile park owners — the people that know," Templeton said.
The demand is "unbelievably high" and he said no one is stepping up to meet the needs. He already had a 20-person waiting list before news about Kingsway broke.
"It’s not an attractive thing to get into," he said.
The landowners are responsible for things like supplying utilities and snow clearing and landowners would much rather just sell to a developer and walk away, he added.
"It’s too costly and too complicated to build mobile home parks."
With more than 50 families entering the market at the same time, Templeton said the results are going to be devastating, and most of the mobile home courts in Brandon are not in the same low-price range as Kingsway.
"The ripple effect of this is going to be ugly."
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said "mobile homes are an important part" of affordable housing talks, however Templeton argued there has been no meeting with trailer park owners to make it easier to operate in the city.
"What can the city do to encourage more development of mobile homes is something we’re going to be considering," Decter Hirst said.
The rezoning process starts tonight, which will likely become a contentious issue around the council table in the coming months as councillors jockey between the issue of affordable housing and residential growth.
The proposed rezoning bylaw was submitted by Kitsilano Laneway Housing Ltd., however the new owner of the land, John Kitchen, is operating locally under the Brandon Evergreen Developments name.
The area’s councillor, Stephen Montague (Richmond), and Decter Hirst — who has been fighting for affordable housing in the area since she took office — would not opine on the Kingsway issue.
"At this point in time, the planning commission is going to make a decision, it’s not up to me to be either for or against the project," she said.
Either way, Brandon Evergreen Developments said even if it’s unsuccessful in its bid to rezone the land from commercial to residential, the park is gone.
Council may also have the option to force the developer to include low-cost housing if Bill 7 passes, a bill which gives municipalities the ability to take a mandatory, incentive-based or hybrid approach to requiring affordable housing, through inclusionary zoning. But the bill has yet to receive second reading as a result of a deadlocked legislature.
"We have to look at which tools are appropriate for which projects," Decter Hirst said.
Meanwhile, Kingsway residents are rallying together to pursue their legal options and a meeting of residents has been set for this week. Residents have also taken their fight online, with a Facebook group and a petition on Change.org.
Tonight’s council meeting will not include any discussion on the matter, but people who would like to voice an opinion about the project can contact the city’s planning commission ahead of the public consultation stage, which has yet to be scheduled.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 19, 2013