One of the requirements for survival is shelter. The planned eviction of Kingsway (Kort) tenants is, therefore, somewhat disconcerting. What is most disturbing about the planned eviction is the attitudes that some of the key actors have regarding the situation which is of major concern to the people who, at present, live in Kingsway (and to others who live in trailer parks in Brandon and, generally, throughout Manitoba).
The new owner of Kingsway, Vancouver-based Brandon Evergreen Developments, is self-identified as a developer. Evergreen has already made it very clear that a trailer park is not part of its vision for developing the park property nor are the people living in the trailer park part of its vision. Understandable, yes? Our society is steeped in the belief that it is almost sinful not to exploit an opportunity to make money, including the opportunity to make more money.
With respect to Kingsway, this translates into an opportunity to maximize revenue and profits by building homes, apartments, condos for sale or rent. An opportunity which requires ridding the property of tenants and the homes that they own. As to a possible “rethink” about the closing of Kingsway, Evergreen said the park will close “regardless of any and all pending or proposed applications or plans and their outcomes” (Brandon Sun, Aug. 16).
The City of Brandon appears to have no jurisdiction with respect to stopping the closure, to adequate compensation to the mobile home owners, or to offering or providing real alternatives. An effort was made to ask the province to consider increasing the allowances payable to evicted homeowners. A nice thought, but one which would have no effect on the residents of Kingsway if for no other reason than timing. However, even this effort was aborted when city council voted to rescind their initial support to forward such a request to the province.
Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond), who supposedly represents the residents of Kingsway, in voting against the motion to ask the province to increase trailer court moving allowances, suggested that a “better way” would be for the city to provide “tangible benefits for the tenants” (Brandon Sun, Oct. 23). His ideas included “waiving tipping fees at the landfill, waiving the moving permit required to move the trailer.”
Would this mean that the mobile home owners could freely move their mobile homes to the city landfill for disposal? Or that Evergreen could freely move the mobile homes to the landfill after the owners vacated their mobile homes? Or that the city would finance the moving of the mobile homes to any location in the province, Canada — that is, somewhere where the owners could find a “home” for their mobile homes and themselves?
Kenneth Templeton (owner, Highland Park and White Swan Trailer courts) seems to provide the only real assessment of the situation for Kingsway and other trailer courts in Brandon — “(T)he ripple effect of this is going to be ugly.”
Mr. Templeton places the issue at the feet of the city and the province suggesting that “laws at both the municipal and provincial level make it difficult for anyone to open a new park.”
In the long term, Mr. Templeton’s thoughts that the province and the municipalities must visit the issue to seek solutions to a highly volatile problem are realistic and appropriate. In the short term, the mobile home owners are experiencing a level of anxiety that most of us will (hopefully) never experience. The reality they are facing includes loss of a home, no place to go, no place that will welcome them, loss of equity in their mobile home, no place that is affordable for them, their irrelevance to business and the city (and possibly Brandon citizens, generally). A reality that is emotionally, psychologically and physically devastating. A reality that they will experience in March 2014.
At this time, it is not too late for the residents of Kingsway. There is no question that the new owner of the property, Evergreen, has the legal right to proceed according to their stated intentions and their timeline. But there are such things as compassion and generosity.
Evergreen could easily postpone their date for eviction by a year, two years, five years. Evergreen could easily impress upon the City of Brandon and the province to come up with a solution for Kingsway residents and for future mobile park developments within Brandon and the surrounding area. Evergreen could easily obtain the support of mobile park owners such as Mr. Templeton in approaching the city and the province. The City of Brandon (that is, city council) could also take some leadership in working with Evergreen to extend the deadline and to implement a long-term solution for the residents of Kingsway and for existing and future mobile home owners and for existing and future mobile park owners. The essential question then is whether there is a will on the part of any of the key actors to ameliorate this situation.
It remains to be seen how our business, civic and government leaders will behave. Is it possible that they will understand and respond to the sentiment expressed by the individual in the Brandon Sun Sound Off section (Oct. 25) — “To force people out of their homes is not right. We treat our pets better than that?”
Note: We (the writers) believe it appropriate and necessary to mention that we live in a mobile home in one of the trailer parks in Brandon. Affordability was the primary criteria for purchasing a mobile home. Since purchasing our mobile, we have come to appreciate and prefer living in a mobile home as opposed to living in a house or an apartment. We, therefore, have a very personal interest in what will happen at Kingsway.