Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Developer evicting trailer park residents

Dispossessed react with anger, grief

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Residents of the Kingsway Kort trailer park in Brandon have been told they have until the end of March 2014 to leave the property.

GRAEME BRUCE / BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Residents of the Kingsway Kort trailer park in Brandon have been told they have until the end of March 2014 to leave the property.

BRANDON -- Residents of the Kingsway Kort trailer park are considering legal action after they were told to move out to make way for a Vancouver-based developer.

More than 50 families living in the trailer court received notice last week from Brandon Evergreen Developments that said it had purchased 4.5 hectares in the south end of the city, including the park.

With full-bore home construction nearby, some residents said it was a long time coming.

"It didn't come as a shock," said resident Nicole Goforth. "With all the development going around, we knew it was coming because our trailer park would do nothing but depreciate all the value of all these houses going up around us."

What's shocking, she said, is the new landowner isn't offering any financial assistance beyond the $500 per resident required by law for moving expenses.

In trailer courts, residents own the building and rent the property, so they can move their home to another property, which could cost as much as $10,000. However, some of the buildings may be too old to transport.

As a result, many homeowners, including Goforth, may have to walk away from their home mired in mortgage debt.

"I don't know how this is going to work out for me," said the single mother of two. "I can't afford to pay a mortgage for this place and rent somewhere else.

"There is talk of coming together and getting a lawyer... we just want financial help."

Others have poured substantial money into permanent fixtures around their property such as decks and fences, which can't be moved along with the home.

In the coming days, several trailer owners will gather to explore their legal options to fight for compensation -- or at the very least delay the inevitable.

"Maybe they can work with us, to maybe give us a little more time," said Candace Sparks, who has been living in Kingsway for more than a decade. "We're going to regroup and figure out the possibilities, people have been making some phone calls. We have to know what we can or cannot do."

For residents on a fixed income, Sparks said this land purchase is another blow to Brandon's ongoing affordable housing market issue.

"I know we have a mayor that talks about affordable housing, and not to knock her at all... but look around, there's no affordable housing," Sparks said.

"You're moving all these people and their families. This is what we could afford, this is what our budgets have allowed us, so trying to find affordable housing in Brandon is not realistic."

Dan Cayer of Lethbridge, Alta., the former owner of the park, according to the on-site manager, did not respond to Brandon Sun inquiries. Some homeowners said they had trouble getting in touch with Cayer, who purchased the property about three years ago.

After homeowners were given information listing other trailer parks and retirement homes in Brandon and Winnipeg, a representative from the development company held a meeting on Wednesday that quickly escalated into screaming and tears from the park's residents condemning the developer's plans.

"What we're doing is applying for zoning and will close the trailer park down," the representative said at the beginning of the meeting in a recording obtained by the Brandon Sun.

"The trailer park will cease to operate in March of 2014," he continued. He would not discuss compensation for the decision when asked by the crowd.

Matt Dickinson, 26, who moved into his starter home in Kingsway 11 months ago, said the representatives acted "heartless" at the meeting.

"There was a lot of anger, people were sad, people were crying, but it was heartless... the way he came in and in the first 30 seconds told us we were out," he said.

In an emailed statement Thursday, Evergreen Developments said the park will close "regardless of any and all pending or proposed applications or plans and their outcomes."

"We have and will abide by all requirements set out in the residential tenancy act regarding the closure of the park."

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2013 A15

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