Most residents of the Seacrest Motel & RV Park have been given one month to clear out of the South Surrey site to make way for a proposed residential subdivision.
Lark Projects Ltd. has submitted a rezoning proposal to the City of Surrey to redevelop 864 160 St. into 22 single-family lots. Planning staff are still completing their initial review, the city confirmed Friday.
A rezoning sign went up at the site a few months ago, and residents who live in recreational trailers and fifth wheels – including those who’ve lived on site for several years – were told on Aug. 31 they must leave by the end of September.
Seacrest has a 12-room motel, along with 11 manufactured home sites and 35 RV sites – the majority of which are occupied by the same people year-round. Residents contacted by Peace Arch News declined to comment ahead of a planned meeting to discuss next steps.
Lark Projects made an unsuccessful attempt to rezone the site a decade ago. In that case, the proposal was for 14 single-family lots. The bid faced significant opposition, and Surrey council, led by then-mayor and now-MP Dianne Watts, rejected the plan at a 2007 public hearing.
But Lark has made changes since then, according to vice-president Kirk Fisher. He said RV owners are now on month-to-month contracts. A decade ago, no contracts existed with RV owners.
Another change is Lark’s approach to the 11 owners of manufactured homes. Fisher told PAN Friday that Lark hopes to reach agreements with all manufactured home residents before the rezoning proposal reaches second reading, and settlements have been reached with six so far.
Fisher said Lark has been following rules laid out in a city bylaw to vacate the manufactured home lots.
“We don’t have everybody yet, but we’re very close.”
Some RV owners – there are at least 20 on month-to-month contracts –also consider themselves permanent residents. But Fisher said the monthly arrangement signed by RV owners has been in place at Seacrest for 10 years.
Fisher added Lark is trying to make the process “as smooth as possible” for RV owners, starting by waiting until the end of the busy RV season before ending tenancy.
“We waited to give the RV people notice until we knew there was vacancy in lots of other spots. We’ve checked them out to make sure there’s vacancy for everybody,” he said.
Lark has also promised to reimburse RV owners for an entire month’s rent if they move out in September, and have offered to help residents move their trailers at no cost.
Lark – a developer in Surrey for 40 years – hopes its proposal will advance to second reading at Surrey City Hall in October, with construction beginning as soon as mid-2017, according to Fisher.
The surrounding neighbourhood is largely single-family homes, and Fisher said area residents would much rather see new homes than what’s there now.
“We haven’t heard anyone in the area complain about us wanting to put in single-family homes.”
The Seacrest, he said, is an aging park in need of improvements, and very few rooms in the motel are being rented out, he said.
“The park is definitely falling apart. It’s been there a long time.”
During the previous rezoning attempt a decade ago, the consensus among residents was they didn’t want to leave, according to a city staff report at the time. They said alternative parks in the Newton area were not nearly as desirable, and also said relocating longtime residents – many of whom were elderly, disabled or on fixed-incomes – would cause too much distress.
Residents also argued the park offered a form of affordable housing that’s in limited supply, especially in South Surrey, and that rezoning the site would set a precedent for redevelopment of other manufactured home parks in Surrey.