Residents of the trailer park in Port Edward are fighting to keep a roof over their head after the new owners served 11 eviction notices earlier this month, evictions that Stone Cliff Properties Ltd. say are needed to stay within the law.
The newly-formed tenants association packed Port Edward council chambers on March 11 to air their grievances before mayor and council, alleging they have been treated unfairly by the company that bought the park late last year.
“They are eviction notices based on non-payment of rent because the owner has refused to accept rent and in some cases returned it to the tenants … every one of these evictions is being disputed. They are not going to get away with it this time,” said association president Ed Day, noting the evictions account for roughly one-third of those in the park.
“None of us feel safe there. We all feel our homes could be taken away from us because where are we going to put them? For many, moving the trailer is cost-prohibitive.”
But a spokesperson for Stone Cliff Properties said the issue is not that the people living in the trailers haven’t paid rent, it’s that the owners of the trailer haven’t paid rent despite several attempts to contact them.
“Under the [Manufactured Home Park Residential Tenancy] act, they are not our tenants, they are the tenants of the owners of the trailers. We can only accept rent from the registered owner of the trailer … they have to pay the owner of the trailer, who then pays us. It has to be the owner of the trailer who pays us,” she said, noting the evictions are in the name of the trailer owner and not the person living there now.
“This isn’t us trying to be mean, this is simply following the rules.”
Another concern of the tenants is rules put in place prohibiting the storage of boats, tires, unlicensed vehicles or more than two licensed vehicles around people’s trailers.
“I have never read anywhere that you can’t have a boat or a trailer parked beside your trailer,” said Day.
“We have a boat launch in town that is paid for by the taxpayers, but if we can’t store a boat next to our trailers then that is a bit of a slap in the face.”
But Stone Cliff said the storage rules were put in place to allow for major renovations and repairs needed at the park.
“Fundamentally we need them to move to allow us to do the needed repairs to the water and sewer line. Right now we can’t do that because we can’t get equipment between the trailers … we’re trying to get the work done and simply can’t,” said the spokesperson.
“It is a safety concern because we can’t do the repairs.”
While Mayor Dave MacDonald encouraged the group to work out their issues through the appropriate legislation, some in the group were looking for more from council.
“With all of these tycoons coming in, the question I have is if council is going to back the people or is council going to back the buck? With these tycoons coming in, we need all the backing we can get,” said Alice Kruta, a resident of the park.
“They are not concerned about Port Edward, they are concerned about downtown Vancouver and money. They don’t care about Port Edward or the people who live here in the least,” added another park resident, Robert Bodger.