After a six-month dispute, the remaining residents of South Surrey’s Seacrest Motel and RV Park have agreed to move off the property before a Residential Tenancy Branch ruling.
But while officials with developer Lark Projects Ltd. said “everybody was happy,” others disagree, and now face the challenge of finding an affordable place to live.
“We are human casualties of Surrey’s fast development, closing down beautiful communities for homes we can’t afford,” said Nancy Malloy, one of the last residents to accept a financial settlement package from Lark.
Lark is in the process of redeveloping the 864 160 St. property into 21 single-family lots. Demolition of the motel took place last month. Some remaining RV residents have until the end of March to leave, others, the end of May.
Malloy – who’s confident her family will find accommodation – expressed concern for two of the park residents.
She said she’s been searching for a nearby, affordable trailer park that will accept the two, however, that search has proved to be fruitless.
“It’s becoming a dying way of living and with the rents the way they are, it’s insane,” Malloy said.
Malloy said she’s encountered several barriers when searching for a new trailer park. The area parks are either too expensive, at capacity or don’t accept trailers that are older than 10 years. Another issue, she said, is that some people pay to rent a lot year-round, but only use it for a portion of the year.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” she said.
Malloy said a portion of the local spots were taken by Seacrest residents who settled with Lark earlier in the RTB process.
The dispute was over the definition of ‘manufactured home.’ If the RTB ruled that the RVs were manufactured homes, the residents would have been entitled to stay on the property for 12 months, then be paid 12-months’ rent on or before the move out date.
To speed the redevelopment, Lark offered to pay each RV resident 12 months’ rent – plus additional moving costs – if the resident elected to move out earlier than the 12-month period.
Last November, three residents approached Peace Arch News to announce an “executive committee.” The committee led the RTB process on behalf of all residents.
However, members of the committee abandoned the RTB process and took a settlement.
“(The) executive committee left us high and dry. We didn’t even know it for two weeks, that went against us. They completely back-doored us,” Malloy said.
Robert Derriah, who manages Border RV Park, was sympathetic to those who are still looking for a new place to live, describing the availability for permanent RV trailer spots as “next to none.”
“It’s not easy. We’re getting people coming from Seacrest phoning every day looking for a spot, but we’re very small,” Derriah said, who manages a park that has 26 lots.
“It’s too bad because a lot of people on old-age pension sure as heck cannot afford the amount that even Hazelmere is popping per lot. We’re very cheap at $420 per month. You can afford that if you’re on an old-age pension,” he said.
Melanie Slaunwhite, assistant manager of Hazelmere RV Park and Campground, said the park has already accepted some Seacrest residents.
“There’s been a lot that have been coming in looking for spots. We are actually completely full so I don’t have a lot of spots for them. At the beginning, some of them have managed to snag a couple of spots,” Slaunwhite said.
She agreed with Malloy’s comment that it’s becoming a dying way of living.
Frank – who didn’t want to provide his last name – has been living at Seacrest for approximately nine years. He is one of the residents that Malloy is concerned about.
“This is someone caught in the system. He owns a trailer and can’t get in anywhere,” Malloy said.
Frank said he pays $500 a month at Seacrest, and doesn’t drink, do drugs, smoke or gamble. He lives on disability benefits of “around $900” a month.
“RV trailers are an affordable place to live. Other places are $800-$1,000 or more to live, if you have two people great, but if you don’t… you know,” Frank said.
Frank said he doesn’t have a phone, uses Seacrest’s free laundry services and visits the food bank every week.
“To live on $900 and move into a new apartment is almost impossible,” he said.
Derriah said he’s not sure what would be the best solution for the remaining Seacrest residents. He suggested they look up north, or trailer parks along Highway 3.
“It’s bleak for these people. I feel sorry for them… If we had another 150 lots, we would take them all.”
Fisher said the Seacrest development has passed first and second reading, and that third reading and a public hearing is scheduled for April 3.