Interior Health is urging West Kelowna city council to consider the low-income residents who live at a mobile home park slated for redevelopment.
The owner of the Shady Acres manufactured home park at 2355 Marshall Road has proposed redeveloping the property into a light industrial park.
According to a report going before city council next week, the park now contains 27 manufactured home pads and one house. Of those, just 10 manufactured homes are occupied by owners while the remaining are tenants.
The park when it was built in the 1960s had 44 units.
“We do not have any objections to the proposed rezoning, however, we are concerned about the loss of approximately forty units of housing that are more affordable for families and individuals with lower socioeconomic position in the community; we are also concerned with ensuring equitable support for the affected residents,” said Interior Health in a letter to the City of West Kelowna.
A demographic profile of the trailer park indicates that many residents also have physical or mental disabilities.
“While the relocation plan for both tenant and owner is generous, from an equity perspective, we suggest the city work with the applicant to provide more in-person support to residents,” Interior Health said, noting some residents may not have access to computers or money for a lawyer.
Those who own manufactured homes that can be moved are being offered $20,000 to help pay for moving costs, as required by provincial law.
The law requires owners of homes that cannot be moved also receive the most recent assessed value of the home, minus $20,000.
Developer Kerr Properties is, however, going beyond that and has offered to buy homes from owners at 110% of BC Assessment's 2023 value.
Renters will receive four months notice and compensation of one month rent plus $1,000.
Gary Sorenson, an owner at the park since 1993, wrote to city council calling that offer “chump change,” claiming the trailers in the park have been undervalued by assessors. He also said most in the park have physical or mental health challenges.
“I have a lot of issues and being displaced like this with no place to live is going to kill me both mentally and physically,” Sorenson said. “I have enough problems as it is right now trying to survive so it’s only going to intensify exponentially once I’m thrown out into the street with the garbage where ultimately I end up in a cardboard box or in the forest and die due to neglect and inability to survive.”
At this point, the majority of the owners in the park have accepted the developer’s offer and only three are listed as “unresponsive.”
West Kelowna city staff are recommending councillors approve the rezoning as it fits within the municipality’s official community plan.
“The property is also adjacent to existing light industrial zoned lands within the West Kelowna Business Park,” said city staff.
The proposal is for two light industrial buildings consisting of warehouse and office uses.
City council will debate the issue Tuesday afternoon.