Surrey’s mayor is advising residents of the Seacrest Motel & RV Park to wait for a Residential Tenancy Branch ruling before complying with an eviction notice.
Contacted by Peace Arch News this week, Mayor Linda Hepner said city staff have advised Lark Projects Ltd. to obtain a ruling from the provincial branch on the definition of recreational vehicles and trailers.
On Aug. 31, residents who live in RVs year-round on the South Surrey property were given one month to leave. Seacrest has 35 RV sites – most occupied by permanent residents.
Lark is attempting the redevelop the site, at 864 160 St., into 22 single-family lots. The rezoning application is being reviewed by city staff and has yet to be considered by council.
Lark maintains RV owners are on month-to-month contracts and thus not afforded protection under the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and the City of Surrey’s Manufactured Home Park Policy.
The city disagrees. Hepner said RVs are considered manufactured homes by the city.
“Given our definition – that it does include things like RVs, trailers and mobile homes that fall within that definition – we would expect them to follow the city’s policy. Their, I believe legal department, or their lawyers, argue that it does not,” Hepner said Wednesday. “I want to make sure that those residents that are entitled to protection under the act receive it.”
Hepner suggested residents wait for the branch’s ruling before moving out.
“I have yet to be advised by either the applicant or staff what the outcome of that inquiry of the Residential Tenancy Branch is. So in terms of what we can do for the residents, I would say sit tight until we have a little bit better handle on whether the Residential Tenancy Branch has made a ruling of some sort,” said Hepner.
If the ruling supports the city’s definition, RV owners could receive the same treatment Lark is compelled to give its 11 manufactured home sites at Seacrest. Under the provincial Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act, those who own their manufactured home and pay pad rent must be given 12 months’ notice of eviction and must also be paid at least one year’s worth of rent.
The city’s policy grants residents further rights.
But Lark’s vice-president, Kirk Fisher, told PAN yesterday the Residential Tenancy Branch will only weigh in on the matter if a resident feels wronged and initiates a review. Lark believes tenants have been given adequate notice, he added.
“We’re at the stage where we have a bunch of people moving out, and we have a bunch of people deciding whether they’re going to get a ruling or not,” he said.
Lark is working to secure eviction agreements with owners of the 11 manufactured homes at Seacrest, and had reached settlements with six by early this month.
Lark Projects made an unsuccessful attempt to rezone the site a decade ago. That proposal was for 14 single-family lots. But the bid faced significant opposition, and Surrey council rejected the plan in 2007.