West Kelowna city council has decided to hold off third reading on a re-zoning application that would displace dozens of residents amid the ongoing housing crisis.
Kerr Properties owns the land that currently houses Shady Acres Manufacturing Home Park. It was hoping to have the property rezoned to light industrial.
However, the proposal would see dozens of residents displaced — all on low income and many with physical and mental disabilities.
“There is definitely a need for assistance that goes beyond just the relocation assistance that’s being offered by Kerr Properties,” said councillor Stephen Johnston.
Many of the affected residents showed up at a public hearing on Tuesday night, desperately pleading for help.
“I just can’t believe you are doing this,” said resident Glen McCallum. “It’s causing me a great deal of mental problems right now and I just don’t think it is fair.”
Gary Sorensen is also a resident who has been on disability for 20 years. He has called Shady Acres home for nearly 30 years and told Global News that if he’s displaced, he will likely end up homeless.
“This is harsh,” Sorensen said. “I am going from paying $350 … to paying $1,600 a month for a one-bedroom place. It’s not good. It’s not good.”
Jim Carpenter owns a unit that both his sons live in and is deeply concerned for them, along with other residents as well.
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“Is this humane? What about humanity or is this all about the dollar?” Carpenter asked.
Kerr Properties is offering relocation packages to both owners and renters.
“As part of our re-zoning application, we have prepared and implemented a comprehensive relocation program which provides transparency and greater notification to residents,” development manager Travis Tournier stated at the public hearing.
Under residential tenancy guidelines for mobile home park use changes, the developer must give owners at least 12 months’ notice and $20,000 in compensation.
For renters, the notice must be at least four months and one month’s rent of compensation. In this case, renters will also receive $1,000 in relocation assistance.
Carpenter said the compensation packages are far too low in the current market.
“It’s a third of what another trailer costs,” Carpenter said.
Given the dire situation the residents now find themselves in, council decided to postpone consideration of third reading until more supports are in place for the residents.
It’s hoping the developer can come up with more ways to support the residents and is appealing to social agencies to step up with housing options.
“We don’t want to see them at tent city and that came up a few times last night at the meeting. Are we going to see these people at tent city?” said carpenter.
The matter is expected to be back before council in the weeks ahead.
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