Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine drafting mobile home policy

Supreme court ruling affects non-conforming homes and could affect affordable housing

IN AN effort to keep people in affordable housing, the regional district and trailer park owners are meeting again today to continue working together to draft a policy that allows affordable housing while not going against a supreme court ruling.

The owners and regional district have met several times to discus how to allow non-conforming mobile homes in certain trailer courts in light of a supreme court ruling that may not allow the regional district to continue to allow mobile homes to be replaced once one is removed.

At the June regional district board meeting, a couple of trailer park owners, Ken Blanes, who owns Copper Mountain Trailer Court, and Ron Townley stated that if the regional district stopped allowing non-conforming trailers that it would cut down on affordable housing in the area.

“We’re trying to work on something,” said Blanes late last week.

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

The supreme court decided that non-confirming mobile homes in a trailer park can’t be replaced if that person moves the current trailer somewhere else.

“I think we need to be cautious that we don’t stray too far from the BC Supreme Court decision but allow some flexibility to the property owners and it’s just a matter of finding some common ground,” said Pellegrino.

“They (trailer park owners) make some good points in that we don’t want something to cause undue financial hardship and also provide clean, safe affordable housing in the community and we definitely recognize that.”

Any new policy that would be adopted by the board could be changed if desired in the future. According to a planning committee agenda from April 2013, the regional district had begun looking into drafting a policy outlining how mobile home parks with non-conforming status would be addressed. Eight properties, some with more than one lot, were identified locally as having mobile home parks with non-conforming status.

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

“Non-conforming mobile home parks predate Regional District zoning bylaws.Historically the regional district has followed the accepted practice of recognizing the mobile home pads as being protected by legal non-conforming status” under the Local Government Act, said the agenda.

“This prevented the park from increasing the number of units/pads but still allowed for owners to remove and replace individual units within the park property.” The regional district board meets again this Friday.