A South Surrey RV park resident says some 300 tenants have been put at risk of homelessness, with notice that their long-term presence is violating City of Surrey bylaws.
The nine-year resident of Peace Arch RV Park told Peace Arch News this week that all of those who call the site home were given notice last week that city zoning does not allow stays at the site of more than six months in a 12-month period.
City officials, however, say the matter at Peace Arch RV Park is one “between the property owner and his tenants.”
“We have not approached the property owner or his tenants regarding the use of the RV park, nor have we cited the property owner or his tenants for being in contravention of the bylaw,” Surrey’s corporate services manager Rob Costanzo said by email Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, officials with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing have confirmed that the park, at 14601 40 Ave., is under investigation by the Residential Tenancy Branch’s (RTB) compliance and enforcement unit, after “some issues” were brought to the unit’s attention in July.
Efforts by PAN this week to reach an owner or manager of the park for comment were not successful.
A woman who answered the office line Tuesday morning told PAN “the people you have to talk with are away till tomorrow,” and advised PAN to “ask for the manager” at that time. In a follow-up call Wednesday morning, PAN was told neither the manager nor the owner would be available to comment until next week.
Ministry officials, noting a number of factors determine whether an RV park falls under tenancy law, would not comment further on specifics of the RTB investigation, citing confidentiality, but noted the unit was created “to investigate complaints and take action against landlords and renters who are repeat or serious offenders.”
“The residents of Peace Arch RV Park, like all people living in RV parks with questions about their specific situation, should contact the Residential Tenancy Branch for more information or dispute resolution,” officials said by email Wednesday.
Last week’s notice to tenants – dated Oct. 30 and signed ‘Peace Arch RV Park Administration’ – states that a recent RTB hearing and subsequent decision “highlighted an error we have made as management regarding the length of stay permitted in our form of Park” which “unfortunately means your current continued occupancy is unlawful.”
The notice does not identify the specific RTB decision.
It adds that the RTB has confirmed the park is “zoned only for temporary tourist accommodation,” and asks residents to “make new arrangements as soon as you can; but absolutely no later” than May 1, 2020.
According to city documents, the RV park was originally developed as a Kampground of America site in 1983, to provide tourist accommodation for Expo ‘86. It had 118 RV sites at that time, but expanded over the years to more than double that number “without ALC or City approval,” minutes from a February 2013 agriculture and food security advisory committee note.
The resident PAN connected with – who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution – disputes the six-month limit.
He said residents were made to sign a new licence agreement on Sept. 1, and nowhere in the document does it state anything about a limit.
In addition, the RTB noted that new compensation for tenants of manufactured home parks facing eviction, introduced in 2018, include “requiring park owners to compensate tenants for the assessed value of the home over $20,000 if a manufactured home can not be relocated,” and an increase in the amount of compensation for bad-faith evictions to 12 months’ pad rental, or $5,000, whichever is greater.
The issue of RV use in Surrey was a subject of note in council chambers Monday night, when bylaw changes were enacted to make it illegal to sleep or live in an RV on city streets. During the discussion, Coun. Brenda Locke noted eviction notices were recently issued “to a number of people” at a Surrey trailer park.
The resident PAN connected with said his neighbours are “up in arms” over the notice.
While some are simply planning to move, there are more senior residents for whom that isn’t an option, he said. Their RVs “wouldn’t even make it out the front gate before they fell apart.”
He, personally, has nowhere to go, he added.
“There is no place to go and I can’t even afford to move,” he said. “I will be homeless without a doubt.”