Nakusp Coachman Campsite residents are upset that they may have to look for a new home for their mobile homes in the near future.
Shawna Lagore and her husband were preparing to build a fence near their home at the Coachman Campsite on Monday, Sept. 23 when they were told by their new landlord they would be receiving eviction notices in the near future.
The Lagores, who had just bought their home last year, were shocked by the news.
“It’s been very stressful,” said Shawna Lagore, who has been researching options in response to the news.
In a written statement to the Arrow Lakes News, the current owners of the Coachman Campground Susan and Ed Kostuch said they have verbally told some of their current tenants of their future plans for the property, but they have not served a notice to end tenancy to anyone. The notice was given in response to the Lagores’ request to spend time and money developing the lot they rent from the Kostuchs.
“For clarification purposes, we have never stated or otherwise indicated to anyone that the current or previous owners have applied for rezoning or have done anything deceitful or illegal,” read the Kostuchs’ statement. “There was never any requirement at the time of purchase for the previous owners to inform the tenants of any change of use to the property and we never stated to anyone at any time that this had been done or was supposed to have been done.”
According to the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act, the landlord must pay tenants actual moving costs up to $25,000. That is, if the building can be moved at all. Many mobile homes have spent so much time where they are, they’re not as mobile as they used to be. Not only that, but it can be difficult to find a pad appropriate for your home, let alone one that’s available in Nakusp. According to the Act, if the building can’t be moved or a suitable site within 50 kilometres can’t be found, the landlord must pay the home’s fair market value.
But the value of mobile homes (also known as manufacture homes) is more than just the building. Mobile homes are a good form of affordable housing, Tom Durning from the Tenant Resource and Advisory in B.C. told the Arrow Lakes News, one that municipalities can work to keep in the community.
“The municipality has a lot of power,” Durning stated. “It’s up to them to decide if they want to keep affordable housing in the community. There’s lots they can do.”
Policies created in other B.C. municipalities acknowledge the home parks as important sources of affordable housing that allow families and residents of different ages and incomes to live in the community.
And what will Nakusp do? Village CAO Linda Tynan said it’s too preliminary to speak about at the moment, but she said it would be a question for council as to what the right thing to do would be.
At the moment the Coachman Campsite is zoned for highway commercial use, so neither campground nor mobile park are covered, and right now it’s considered as “legally non-conforming use.” Council could refuse to rezone it to allow a larger campsite, said Tynan, but what the property owners decide to do with their business is up to them.
Shawna Lagore will be bringing the issue to council on Oct. 15, and said she is looking for a fair solution, a policy that will be good for both sides.
“We’re looking for policies to be in place that treat landowners and homeowners equally,” she said, noting that this is only the first case of mobile home park redevelopment and likely not the last.
“[The owners] should pay the costs, otherwise it will be the community that does,” she added, pointing out that the effects of evictions like this will affect the community at large. School enrolments, local businesses, lending institutions, and social welfare programs are all affected by a decrease in affordable housing, said Lagore.
The decision to develop the property is not being taken lightly, said the Kostuch’s statement, “as it has effects on many, including our own investment in our family-run business’ future. We are invested in this community as a whole, and are intent on working with those involved in a co-operative and supportive manner throughout this process.”