More on the Controversy of Mobile Home Park Rights

It’s becoming a hot topic. I’ve been seeing this in the news since a few weeks back but only started posting about it yesterday which is when it started to become apparent that this issue has the potential to become a topic that will be well discussed in the media and among certain members of the public.  Here is a new article from the local newspaper known as the "Daily News". For more on my views of the topic, see yesterday’s post.

Ryan Coffey

Council wants B.C. to help tenants

Legislation would aid displaced mobile home park residents

Derek Spalding
Daily News

Nanaimo city councillors on Monday decided against a protection plan to financially compensate people displaced from mobile home parks. Instead, they suggest the provincial government make changes to legislation that governs such residential developments.

Mobile park residents and Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog called on city politicians to review and clarify the rules for redevelopment of mobile home parks, fearing that owners could build condos or apartments on the property and force occupants to move. Mobile home park owners in Nanaimo could increase their property value by 235%, the highest increase of any community in B.C., according to the Manufactured Home Study released by B.C. Housing in 2007. The report recommends that municipalities create tenant relocation plans for owners who want to redevelop. The plans should include moving expenses, and compensation for older manufactured homes which cannot be relocated.

Displaced tenants face expensive moving costs, they have to pay higher rent at new locations and they often lose the support network they had in their previous spot, the report says. In Nanaimo, however, owners of all but one mobile home park must ask for rezoning in order to increase density on the land by building residential units. The rezoning request lets councillors review each site, ensuring that owners properly assist the displaced tenants, says mayor John Ruttan.

Council members need to balance the rights of tenants against those of the owners, he said. He recommended that the provincial government "step up" and provide better compensation for displaced home owners.

"It’s a difficult thing to do because on the one hand we don’t want to tell the owners what they can do with their property, but we want to make sure the residents have somewhere to live," Ruttan said.

The provincial government changed the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act in 2002 and reduced displaced tenant compensation from $10,000 to the equivalent of 12 months rent. This reduction has significant impact on people in older parks, says a report from the city’s planning department in 2007. The document cites pad rental rates that can be as low as $250 a month, which would require owners to pay approximately $3,000 in compensation.

It is "ironic that the province reduced the required compensation and then commissioned a report (that) recommended more compensation," the staff report states.

Most mobile home tenants have a bit of security because of existing zoning and goals outlined in the official community plan. Nanaimo has about 2,386 units in 21 mobile home parks and three RV parks. Most of these sites are located either in the north end between Long Lake and Brannen Lake or the Chase River and south end neighbourhoods. ‘Neighbourhood’ or ‘suburban neighbourhood’ designations in the OCP limited the support for rezoning much of the locations, according to the staff report. Three mobile parks are in zones that allow for higher density, but those sites would still require rezoning.

Council could come up with compensation plans similar to those in Langford and other B.C. communities, according to councillor Merv Unger, but too many restrictions on property owners could deter other people from investing in mobile home parks.

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