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Residents fear homelessness if Mission mobile home park closes

Grove Mobile Home Park owners inform residents of plans to redevelop Lougheed Highway property

Residents of a mobile home park in Mission are fearful for their future with the potential closure of the park looming.

Ken Babichuk has been living at the Grove Mobile Home Park off Lougheed Highway for four years. He said he plans to live there until he dies.

However, his options would be limited should the park close to make way for a new development.

“I’ll become homeless,” Babichuk said.

There are 25 homes at the Grove and over 35 residents — all of whom are seniors. Dave Nash, who has lived at the Grove for three years, says homelessness is a possibility for most residents.

“It’s a very real risk with a good number of people in the park that they will not be able to find any affordable housing and we’re putting people out on the street. There will be some members in the park that will have nowhere to go — they’ll be living in a tent,” Nash said.

The newest owners of the property sent a letter to residents by mail on March 7 informing them of plans to redevelop the mobile home park into a multi-family residential and commercial project.

According to the letter, the owners are targeting 2025 for the beginning of construction and have completed a pre-application review with City of Mission planning staff.

“When you had to put pen to paper, that really created a stir,” Nash said.

“It’s caused an immense amount of stress to a vulnerable population. You have seniors, you have disabled seniors, you have seniors with complex care needs, and to throw this at us out of the blue — there are a couple of folks that said that it’s really impacted their health badly.”

In the past, local realtor Paula Blamey sold homes in the Grove to some of its residents. She is currently helping to advocate on behalf of the people living there.

“They had no impression that this was going to happen and they’ve really had the rug pulled from underneath them,” Blamey said.

She says the park stopped taking applications for new tenants early last year, leaving the current residents unable to sell.

Most of the mobile homes also aren’t actually mobile. Blamey says only two of the homes could be moved in the event of a closure, while the rest would fall apart.

“Ever since they stopped taking applications in the park, these folks are actually stuck where they are. They cannot leave and their value — you don’t really have any resale value if the park is no longer going to take in new tenants,” she said.

According to the City of Mission, there are no official applications in stream to develop the property.

At the April 15 meeting, council unanimously resolved to take action to protect manufactured home tenants.

City staff will research measures taken in other municipalities to protect tenants and investigate whether a moratorium can be put in place on the redevelopment of manufactured home parks until a policy is adopted.

Council is aiming to bring a bylaw or policy forward for consideration by May 21, with a potential moratorium coming forward at the next council meeting.

“I don’t think anybody on council fails to understand the importance of making sure the residents in the mobile home park are properly accounted for and listened to and treated with not only respect but quite frankly … be able to keep their homes or find a place that’s a suitable replacement in an orderly fashion,” Horn said.

While no application has been submitted to the city, Horn says they expect anyone who comes forward to treat people with respect, dignity and concern for their physical well-being.

A group of Grove residents attended the April 15 council meeting to see how the mayor’s motion would unfold. Nash, Babichuk and Blamey all praised council’s reaction to the situation.

“We have a mayor and council that are forward-looking, compassionate, and really understand the issue we’re trying to bring to them,” Nash said.

Prince Rupert legal advocate Paul Lagace specializes in cases involving manufactured home park tenants. He is working with the Grove residents and says his goal is to ensure the tenants get their fair due.

“When you have millions of dollars at stake with vulnerable populations, they can be taken advantage of. We just don’t know in this case. So I always make the presumption that that could happen. That’s the common denominator,” Lagace said.

He says roughly 40 municipalities in the province have bylaws or policies in place that provide protections for tenants, in addition to the requirements under the provincial Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act from 2018. Before 2018, there was no protection.

“To oversimplify, there’s nothing really preventing anyone from closing the park — that is always permitted. What is now in place is, at least there’s fair compensation related to that,” Lagace said.

When provincial protections were put in place six years ago, Lagace says manufactured home parks were both affordable and available places. Now, they’re full.

“This is the B.C. reality everywhere. There’s nothing affordable and nothing available,” he said.

Lagace says nobody wants to be kicked out but hopes to find an agreement that works if it’s going to happen.

Nash says compensation likely wouldn’t cover a move to a similar situation in a neighbouring community.

“If we have to close that park, it’s not a win-win, it’s a win-lose. If we have to close that park, and we’re put into a situation where our affordable housing is gone — we’re hooped,” Nash said.

Babichuk says it would be difficult to find a new place that would accommodate his service dog as well.

“It’s sort of ludicrous to kick people out when [the province is] scrambling to get housing for people. We all bought our trailers — we’re not renting — we bought. And we’re not looking for some income to come out of it. We were there just to live,” Babichuk said.

Despite the challenges, Grove residents have found themselves united on the issue.

“One of the realities of the situation we’re in is it’s galvanized us as a community,” Nash said.

Moving forward, the group hopes to meet with the developer to bring some of the issues to the table.

“We can’t stop a development, necessarily. We maybe don’t have the power to do that. But we are an organized group, who are not going to back down at this point,” Blamey said.

READ MORE: Mission council approves industrial park, purchase of firehall land for $10

Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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