Stewart English, a 66-year-old pensioner, has spent the past two decades building an oasis around his modest Penticton, B.C., mobile home, but come Oct. 1 he will be forced to leave it all behind.
In April, he and dozens of others at the Delta Mobile Home Park were handed eviction notices.
The property is slated for redevelopment as an industrial site.
Many of the tenants have lived at the park for decades.
Some only pay $400 per month in pad rent.
Since the notices were issued, residents have struggled to find other places to live.
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“That’s why we are here, because we can’t afford the cost of living anywhere else,” English said.
The uncertainty is so unbearable for some, English said, that people are at a breaking point.
“It’s just tearing them apart, emotionally, mentally,” he said.
Many fear homelessness in the midst of a housing crisis and a dismal rental vacancy rate.
“It’s just devastating, it’s something we don’t deserve,” English said.
It appears there is little recourse.
The park is located on Penticton Indian Band locatee land.
There has been no compensation provided to tenants for relocation.
Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said residential tenancy laws do not apply.
“There is no jurisdiction that I’m aware of to help protect these individuals,” he told Global Okanagan.
English said that needs to change.
“A new law should be present, doesn’t matter where you are in Canada, everybody should be taken care of.”
When asked if laws should be changed to protect people in English’s predicament, Ashton said: “British Columbia has laws in place now that protect people on Crown land and in residential mobile home parks but, again, we’re talking with band lands and locatee lands, there are no laws in place for that.”
In a statement, B.C.’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said reserve lands are the responsibility of the federal government.
“As this property is on reserve land, the provisions outlined in the province’s Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act that require park owners to pay compensation when a park closes do not apply,” the statement said.
“This is a complex area of law, and it is unfortunate that people with manufactured homes on reserve land are precluded from the compensation provisions under the Act.”
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The lack of support is leaving some feeling isolated and helpless.
“We feel so alone,” English said.
The government statement added that BC Housing has mailed information directly to residents at the park about BC Housing’s Rental Housing Assistance program, Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters and how to apply to the housing registry.
Another tenant, who asked not to be identified, said the park owner is forced to redevelop the land because some tenants do not pay rent and others do not clean up after they leave.
“They’ll just move out and leave everything for him to clean up, and it ends up costing him so much money so now it’s at the point that he can’t even keep it open.”
Global Okanagan could not reach park owner Fred Kruger or property management company Stanmar Services for comment on Sunday.
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