KEN Blanes

Policy eases worries about trailer park housing in rural area

Non-conforming mobile homes can be replaced in northwestern B.C. regional district

RURAL TRAILER park owners and the regional district have reached an agreement on a policy that will allow people to place mobile homes on vacant pads and to replace mobile homes even if the locations don’t conform with current zoning regulations.

The policy eases worries of a shortage of lower cost housing in rural areas should the regional district clamp down on non-conforming mobile home situations.

The new Legal Non-conforming Mobile Home Park Policy, adopted at the Nov. 22 regional district board meeting, says that existing “mobile home units will be allowed a one-time replacement if accompanied by a Replacement Declaration and Agreement identifying the structure by unit number and registration number and saving harmless the Regional District from any liability associated with the replacement unit….”

Mobile home pads that are vacant “will be allowed to be occupied with a mobile home and further allowed a one-time only replacement…” with the same conditions being satisfied as the existing mobile homes, the policy continues.

At the regional district meeting in June of this year, trailer park owners Ken Blanes, who owns Copper Mountain trailer court, and Ron Townley stated their case that if the regional district stopped allowing non-conforming trailers that it would cut down on affordable housing in the area.

After that meeting, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine planner Ted Pellegrino said the regional district was also seeking legal opinions on the Stroshin supreme court decision, which set rules on non-conforming trailers and trailer parks.

In that decision, the supreme court had decided that non-conforming mobile homes in a trailer park can’t be replaced if that person moves the current trailer somewhere else.

Eight properties, some with more than one lot, were identified locally as having mobile home parks with non-conforming status.

Seven are in Thonrhill and one is in Jackpine Flats, ranging in size from four pads to 28 identified pads and all but one park contained vacant pads.

According to the new policy, replacement mobile homes must conform to building standards, have proper permits and “may be no closer than six metres to the nearest mobile home or addition.”

A single-wide can be replaced with another single-wide, and a double-wide may be replaced with a single-wide or double-wide, the policy says.

Mobile park owners are responsible to ensure replacement mobile homes are compliant with sewer regulations, building and fire codes, continues the policy.

The policy will be reviewed in three years.

At the Nov. 22 meeting, trailer park owners Lorna Morrison and Ron Townley and Ken Blanes came to thank the people involved who worked with them in good faith for a good outcome.

“Thirteen months ago, one afternoon we were approached by a regional district employee telling us we would be sued if we tried to replace [a non-conforming mobile home],” said Lorna Morrison.

“It’s our livelihood renting property to people.

“And 13 months later, we’ve come to say thank you,” she said, naming Pellegrino, rural Terrace area director Doug McLeod, city representative Bruce Bidgood and Thornhill director Ted Ramsey, all of whom worked on the policy with the mobile park owners, as people who recognized that a good government was one that consults with the people.

The mobile park owners are happy with the policy and can tell their tenants that their residences are not going to be jeopardized or forced to move anywhere, she added.

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