COLUMN: Surrey needs solution for RV park residents

A development proposal in South Surrey brings up many important questions requiring answers, writes Frank Bucholtz.

A development proposal in South Surrey brings up a larger question – how best to preserve affordable housing in an era when skyrocketing house prices and a limited stock of rental housing are making it harder to make monthly mortgage or rent payments.

Lark Projects Ltd., a longtime and respected Surrey developer, is in the process of having the Seacrest Motel and RV Park at 864 160 St. rezoned for a 22-lot detached residential development.

The proposal was first floated by Lark 10 years ago, but was turned down by Surrey council in 2007.

The Seacrest property contains 11 manufactured homes and also has 35 RV sites – many of which are occupied by people on a year-round basis. It also has a 12-unit motel.

The people occupying the RV sites have been given a month to vacate the property. The notice was given on Aug. 31, so they need to be out by the end of September. RV owners are on month-to-month contracts to occupy their spaces at Seacrest. Lark has promised to give RV owners a month’s rent back, if they move out this month.

The situation facing manufactured homeowners is a little more complex. Kirk Fisher, vice-president of Lark, said it hopes to reach an agreement with all 11 manufactured home owners before the rezoning proposal bylaw goes to second reading at council. It has reached an agreement with six so far.

Owners of manufactured homes often cannot find another place where they can move their homes to. There are a limited number of manufactured-home parks in the Lower Mainland, and a number of them have been closed over the past 20 years and the properties put to other uses.

While they have better protection from a sudden eviction than they used to, there are many complications involving manufactured homes. In Surrey’s case, a set procedure for vacating manufactured home parks is outlined in a bylaw, which Lark is complying with.

Surrey Manufactured Home Owners Association’s website lists 21 parks where it has members. Most are located in South Surrey, Fleetwood and Newton. The largest one, Breakaway Bay on 160 Street in South Surrey, has 345 manufactured-home spaces.

For many people, this is the only type of accommodation they can easily afford. The cost of buying a unit is quite low, and owners then pay a monthly rental for the space they occupy and other services. There are significant social benefits to living in such parks, and most people who live in them wouldn’t live anywhere else. There is a strong sense of community.

In the past, people have said such forms of housing are particularly needed in South Surrey, where apartments, townhouses and detached homes are more expensive than in other parts of the city.

The RV owners who must vacate Seacrest may be in even more challenging circumstances.

They have chosen to live in units meant for short-term stays, and it may prove difficult to find another place for the long-term. The fact that there are so many at this one small park indicates the depth of the housing challenges facing many residents.

The Seacrest proposal probably makes sense, given the size of the property and the age of the motel. It is surrounded by detached homes and such a development would fit right into the neighbourhood.

However, Surrey council and planners need to give much more thought to where those who live in manufactured homes and RVs can go when such a park closes. Existing manufactured-home parks, particularly large ones, need to be kept intact so that people enjoying this type of housing can continue to do so.

The alternative would be both chaotic and expensive, and for some, it could mean homelessness.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News. frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

partial graphic used in "Get Serious" campaign by Surrey business groups.
‘Get Serious’ message about COVID pushed by Surrey business groups fearing ‘economic shutdown’

‘Different social media messages will be sent out daily with significant messaging…’

Stock photo
Pair’s lawsuit dismissed against Fraser Valley soccer association and churches

Judge in Abbotsford calls claims against 14 defendants ‘an abuse of the court’s process’

Pixabay image
OUR VIEW: Grow up and join the fight against COVID-19 in Surrey

All of us in Surrey need to ask ourselves if we are on the right side of the fight against COVID-19, or are we not

Surrey RCMP Corporal Joanie Sidhu. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Surrey RCMP stats say violent crime has dropped by seven per cent

That’s for the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Lawrence Nadessan, 44, was last seen on Oct. 24 at 11:30 p.m. in Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge man missing since Saturday is extremely out of character, family says

Cameras saw him leaving home, not dressed for the weather

A group of Abbotsford secondary principals’s and vice-principals are at a retreat in Whistler this weekend. (Whistler.com photo)
Abbotsford principals attend retreat in Whistler despite COVID-19 gathering restrictions

Reported group of 20 did follow COVID-19 protocols during Whistler Pro-D event, says school district

Most Read