Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Residents offer to purchase trailer park

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Brandon Sun A development sign stands adjacent to the Kings Court mobile home park in Brandon's south end on Friday.

BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Brandon Sun A development sign stands adjacent to the Kings Court mobile home park in Brandon's south end on Friday.

BRANDON -- The West Coast developer that purchased a beleaguered south Brandon trailer park last year -- pushing residents off the property to make way for new residential development -- breached the purchase agreement, the owner says, and the deal has been scrapped.

It's yet another surprise in a year-long saga shrouded in anger and frustration for the 30-40 families still living in the neighbourhood after they were offered time-sensitive compensation last year by Vancouver-based Kitsilano Laneway Housing Ltd. -- working under the name Brandon Evergreen for this deal -- to move off the land to make way for new condominiums and apartments. The compensation included $2,500 and a rent rebate.

But even with the failed deal, Kingsway Kort Ltd. management said "it is clear that there is no turning back at this point," in a letter dated July 7.

"The park will still close down."

The notice to tenants cited old infrastructure, low lot-rental rates compared with other parks and municipal zoning issues as the reasons it's not viable to keep open.

Before the deal fell through, tenants were told they have until the end of 2014 to move, but it's still unclear if that deadline remains.

Kingsway property owner Dan Cayer of Lethbridge, Alta., broke his year-long media silence on the now-failed deal, but declined to provide the nature of purchase breach.

"It would be a difficult thing to comment on legally," Cayer said in a phone interview Friday.

He also couldn't say if Brandon Evergreen will make good on the deal with those people who signed the compensation contracts and moved away. Brandon Evergreen has been working through a local lawyer who could not be reached for comment.

"We're still trying to figure out what this all is going to mean because it totally took us off guard," Cayer said.

But the saga isn't over yet. Another purchaser put forward an offer Friday morning.

Dean Esler, owner of a local Boston Pizza restaurant, is the head of a committee of residents looking to buy the land -- a deal that would result in residents owning shares of the owning corporation, meaning they would actually own the land on which their trailers stand.

He doesn't live in the park, but both his mother and daughter do.

"We have financing in place, things are ready to go," Esler said. "All we're waiting for by Tuesday at noon is to see if Mr. Cayer accepts the offer."

Included in the offer is the promise to get the area properly zoned for modular homes, an issue the small neighbourhood has grappled with for years. When the area was first vetted as a location for the Corral Centre several years ago, the owner at the time preemptively zoned the park as commercial. After the decision was made not to put the shopping complex there, the zoning never changed and no new homes could be brought in without conditional approval from the city for each new trailer. Last year, when Brandon Evergreen purchased the property, it was rezoned as high-density.

"This solves everyone's problem. If people own their own property, you'll see a lot of upgrades," Esler said. He also anticipates paving roads and adding street lighting.

He didn't divulge the amount of the offer, but suspects it's equal "to what he (Cayer) expected from Evergreen."

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2014 A11

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