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CONTRIBUTION · 15th June 2013
Ken Blanes
The Regional District of Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) recently proposed policies that affect Legal Non-Conforming Mobile Home Parks. There are 7 in Thornhill, 1 in Jackpine Flats and 1 in S. Hazelton.

Reasons given by the RDKS was a Legal Ruling by Justice Wong in the case (City of Parksville vs. Stroshin). The Judge ruled a Mobile Home is a “structure” under Section 911 of the Local Gov’t Act.

Justice Wong ruled the City of Parksville did not have to issue Permits to allow Stroshins Mobile Home Park to place New Mobile Homes on pads. However, the City of Parksville took the reasonable position that replacement units of the same size may be brought onto the property.

Justice Wong said in his conclusion “Recognizing that the Homes of many people are located in the Mobile Home Park, I would encourage the parties to work towards a reasonable solution that respects the interests of these individuals”.

The RDKS has taken a ‘Draconian’ approach by using this case to stop Legal NonConforming MHP’s from placing Mobile Homes on empty pads or even exchanging an old one to a New Model. This is the RDKS interpretation of Justice Wong’s “Reasonable Solution”.

No less than 5 letters of correspondence, and 1 site visit by two RDKS staff, have threatened to take us to court if we placed a Mobile Home on empty pads that had been previously occupied. The 2 RDKS staff indicated that even making a simple repair would result in a court action.

When asked “What Bylaw or Policy stated that you can make such a decree”, they had nothing to back it up. They continued by walking around our property taking pictures without the courtesy of even asking permission. This continued until they were spotted by my wife who asked “What is this all about?”

They again started in about taking us to court. When asked “Where’s this coming from?” They couldn’t even give us the information except to say it was a “Supreme Court Ruling” All of this in an abusive threatening manner. This was the first encounter with the RDKS “Reasonable Solution.”

Their proposed policy contains many items ruinous to our MHP’s one which is a 6 month rule in usage of an empty pad. Nine months have passed of RDKS telling us using a pad will result in court litigation. But the minute their ‘Proposed Policy’ passes we will only have 6 months to find a tenant to rent a pad or we will lose the status of it being a MHP pad.

This is an outrageous and a contemptible violation of common sense and what is given in accepted legal opinions that pertain to Legal Non-Conforming Land use in many court decisions.

Some MHP’s will lose Mobile Homes and Pads as newly proposed ‘Density Rules’ are implimented. As time passes and Mobile Homes aren’t allowed to be replaced the Thornhill Area will be losing Safe Affordable Housing Sites.

Through attrition of homes ageing and RDKS Non-Approval of using empty pads this could be a loss of substantial affordable housing.

Other Proposed Policies will be extremely costly to MHP Owners and will be discussed with RDKS Regional Board.

The elected and appointed people of RDKS who make decisions rely on advice from the hired staff.

Policies proposed to allow replacement and continuation of operating Legal Non-Conforming MHP’s were presented to the RDKS and Planning Committee. All of the owners of such Parks were invited to work with the RDKS and voice our concerns. We did. Several concerns were given. They were only given ‘Lip Service’ and the policies went forth to Planning as RDKS Staff proposed them. The Planning Board has to rely on Staff’s advice.

We as owners would stand to lose thousands of dollars in revenue and an accumulated hundreds of thousands in our MHP values if these proposals are rubber stamped by Committee.

The RDKS assured us that their proposals were vetted by their Legal Council and no changes would be made. We asked to see the Legal opinions that would be used to justify these Harsh Policies. We were refused by RDKS.

Their next action was to discuss their Legal Advice with Board Members ‘IN CAMERA’. This basically hides their discussion from the Public. It’s essentially a “Gag” order on Board Members. This is not Democracy.

This is clearly an intentional move by the RDKS to hide facts that should be Public knowledge. It forced us to get our own legal opinion that challenges the RDKS position.

Now, as a reader of the long convoluted letter you’re probably wondering “What’s this got to do with me?” The short answer is if you’re a Tax Payer you’re paying thru the nose for the RDKS to hire Law Firms (two at least possibly more).

We as legitimate business’s vow to fight what we think is totally unfair and unnecessary misguided actions that attempt fixing something that was working just fine.

We have contacted other Regional Districts and they have no intention to make these policies. In fact in the documents that we have obtained the Regional Districts have worked alongside of the Legal Non Conforming Trailer Parks in a cooperative manner. It appears that the RKDS is the only one in BC that we know of that has this ice age view.

So, Mr and Mrs Taxpayer, be prepared to shell out for the RDKS to shovel money off the back of a truck while the RDKS continue to keep paying Legal Fees Searching for Legal opinions that justify their attempts to strangle business in the RDKS and drastically CUT Safe Affordable Housing for Low Income Earners, Seniors and Persons with Disabilities!

If this piques your interest and would like to add your voice in support to prevent the RDKS from passing theses outrageous policies; the next meeting on this issue is June 21 2013, at the RDKS Regional Office. NO TIME HAS BEEN GIVEN so please contact the Regional Office to find out the meeting time 250 615 6100.
Lip service
Comment by Herb on 19th June 2013
It appears that the RDKS must have some pretty deep pockets (ie taxpayers money) to be hiring lawyers to fight people that supply Decent Affordable Housing! Do you not think your money would be more wisely spent on working with these people to supply even more Affordable Housing???
Co-operation and Common Sense
Comment by J. Dover on 19th June 2013
25 years ago, two of the parks cited in the legal non-conforming usages, namely Kofoed and Pine st. were in a deplorable condition. I remember that they were unsafe, unclean and unsightly. Property values on these two were down and also on the neighboring properties as a result of the bad condition of these two parks. These parks were sold to the new owners, and as a result of their hard work and considerable investment, they have become a place that residents are proud to call home and live in peace. Property values have increased on these two parks and the neighbors can also enjoy the increased value on their homes. From an RDKS perspective,, increased value means an increase in tax revenue - true? Board members are elected to work for the benefit of their communities, and the residents who live in those communities. Perhaps this should be the mandate of the staff of RDKS as well. Myself, I would like to see my representatives on the board applauding positive improvements that make an impact on the image of our communities.Perhaps even helping them to continue their good works. A little co-operation and common sense would benefit all. At a time when our area has 0% vacancy,,, we need more decent housing - not less.
What Kitimat and Terrace badly need
Comment by david dickinson on 19th June 2013
What is really needed in Kitimat and Terrace is -- higher rental rates!
Reason
Comment by Harold on 18th June 2013
For amount of money they are going to spend to up hold the ruling is it worth it? First you have to ask why now? Did someone with conforming trailer park complain about the non conforming pads so they can limit someone's business? The RDKS is not going to spend that kind of money because they came in with guns blazing there will court action against you if you don't comply a strong arm approach . Don 't worry go ahead and live the way you where and let RDKS spend there time and money for something that will take years if every to take effect.
Another beaurocratic bungle!
Comment by D Phillips on 17th June 2013
This could be a skit from Monty Python where the so called "civil servants", who by the way are usually neither civil or servile, enter the scene bombastically telling everyone what they should be doing without the faintest idea of why they are doing so. RDKS staff are paid with tax dollars and are elected or appointed to serve the people of the Regional District. They should, therefore, be helping instead of hindering efforts to preserve or increase affordable housing for all.
Behind Closed Doors
Comment by M Anderson on 16th June 2013
Why has it been so important to discuss this out of sight of the people and owners of these properties which seem to number quite a few. Why can the RDKS not sit down and draw up policy with the owners instead of hiding behind closed doors....Is there really another hidden agenda? I decry the huge waste of my tax dollars as well. Please do "your" job for the low income and low cost residents of this riding
What is the RDKS thinking!
Comment by E. Murphy on 15th June 2013
Not sure why the RDKS would be thinking along these lines or if they have considered the need for houseing in Terrace with so many new projects coming to the Terrace area.
What is the Regional Districk of Kitimat Stikine offering as reasonable solutions for Terrace housing. RDKS must have some alternate approach in mind for housing and I for one, would be interested in hearing what it would be.