Residents of Revelstoke’s 2 biggest mobile home parks may have a chance to buy their land
The owners of the two biggest manufactured home parks in Revelstoke, want to turn them into stratas.
The Cumming family, which operates as Rimcher Investments Ltd., owns four parks in town. They sent out a letter in November to residents of Glacier Heights and Oscar Street parks, saying they are starting the stratification process.
“Our intentions are not to displace our tenants and [we’ll] do what we can do avoid that,” the letter said.
Residents of the parks currently own their trailers, but rent the land they occupy from the owners.
Re-zoning from manufactured home park to strata, creates individual titles for the lots the mobile homes currently sit on. Under a policy passed this summer by Revelstoke city council, owners have to give tenants the right of first refusal to buy the land if it’s turned into a strata.
The intent of the city’s new policy, called the Manufactured Home Park Redevelopment, Residential Tenant Protection and Strata Conversion Policy, is to mitigate displacement of mobile home park tenants due to development.
Owning your home, but not the land, creates a precarious living situation for mobile home park residents, especially as property values rise in Revelstoke. Counc. Matt Cherry said in a Jun. 15 Committee of the Whole meeting that he’s heard from park owners who say they get daily calls from developers who want to buy their land.
“It’s always a contentious issue, and it’s also an emotional issue, very rightfully so, with redevelopment of manufacturing home parks.” Said Paul Simon, Revelstoke’s lead planner.
There are 19 parks in Revelstoke, made up of 494 mobile homes. That’s about 13 per cent of Revelstoke’s housing stock. And the most affordable housing option.
Of the 19 parks, Johnston Heights is stratified.
“You can think of the Johnston Heights Mobile Home Park as what this policy is striving for should someone want to redevelop one of the existing manufactured home parks.” Said Simon.
He admits that the idea of a park owner selling to a developer is more financially appealing than going through the process of stratification. But says whether it’s a current park owner that wants to re-zone, or a developer who’s just bought it, they have to apply to the city to develop. And that’s when the new policy kicks in. City staff use it to guide them through the decision-making process of how an owner can re-zone.
Park owners have to do rigorous work. Two weeks before they apply to the city to re-zone, they have to give each resident a Manufactured Home Park Tenant notification. It has to include a lot of information, including the owner’s redevelopment plans and estimated timing, a copy of the city’s policy, and resources to help tenants assess the condition of their homes.
In addition, the owners have to create Manufactured Home Park Relocation plans. They have to include a profile of the number of tenants in the park, each of their housing needs and each of their relocation preferences. They have to identify options to relocate each of their manufactured homes.
When the owner applies to re-zone, their application has to include the relocation plans, as well as responses from each tenant. They also have to provide a profile of the condition of each mobile home in their park, and its ability to be moved.
The city with work with the owner based on this information, to determine if stratification will be possible. If stratification goes ahead, and some tenants aren’t able to buy their land, Simon said the owner has to give them an option to continue renting their pad by creating a new lease agreement.
“We want to make sure the intent of the policy is followed, where people aren’t displaced. That’s the ultimate goal,” said Simon.
If stratification isn’t possible, the next option the city requires the owner to consider is residential rental tenure zoning.
“So that everything has to be rental, which is a dire need in this community, which is why we have it set up as option number two,” Simon said.
The owner has to give tenants of the park right of first refusal to rent under option two.
The third, and what Simon calls the “least desirable” option, is the status quo redeveloping land into market housing. The city requires 25 per cent to be affordable housing, which tenants have the first right of refusal to buy.
The developer has the option to pay the city $20,000 per manufactured home, based on the maximum number of homes allowed in the park, in lieu of providing 25 per cent affordable housing. This money would go in the city’s affordable housing kitty, and tenants would be displaced.
“The city doesn’t need to support re-zoning applications,” Simon said.
City staff will work with owners to create a viable plan that meets the intent of the policy, he said.
When councillors passed this policy in the summer, they were all in favour of its intent to not displace residents. But counc. Aaron Orlando voted against adopting the policy, saying he doesn’t know anyone who can tell him that the mobile home owners will be able to get a mortgage to buy land in a strata.
The fact is, the city doesn’t know how the owner will determine prices of the lots, or how financing will work.
Simon says this is a precedent setting policy in B.C., and admits it’s complicated.
“We knew when this policy was adopted, what we told council is there will be items that still need to be sorted out,” he said.
Simon estimates the process to re-zone from mobile home park to strata will take from eight to 20 months.
The Cumming family is just starting the process, and they haven’t applied to the city to re-zone. In an email to Stoke FM Charlene Cumming said there’s no guarantee the city will approve their application.
They don’t have a timeframe for when they’ll submit an application.
“We are very thankful for all our tenants both past and present for their choice over the years to live in our parks. We have done our best to be good landlords but it’s time for a change. We are going to try and figure out a way to hopefully be able to accommodate every one of our tenants.”
Oscar Street has 85 homes, and Glacier Heights has 55. Stoke FM heard from many of the tenants, who are worried about what might happen if stratification goes ahead. Stay tuned for more stories on this.