Trailer park residents have the backing of District of Squamish council, whose members say the areas are among the last vestiges of affordable housing options left in town.
The District of Squamish will maintain a moratorium on redeveloping mobile home parks following a council strategy session on Tuesday (June 12) where councillors expressed frustration at affordable housing recommendations put forward by hired consultants.
Council unanimously rejected a proposal by staff and Noha Sedky of CitySpaces consulting that recommended council implement a policy that "requires developers to consider the needs of tenants who are being displaced due to the redevelopment of their mobile home park and provides guidance for staff and council when redevelopment applications are reviewed."
"I really don't understand why, when we're in a situation where we're lacking in affordable housing, that we could consider lifting the moratorium and losing some of the little bit of affordable housing we already have," said Coun. Mike Jenson.
The District of Squamish has had a moratorium on redevelopment of trailer courts since April of 2005 when a rezoning application for Angelo's Trailer Park on Government Road was rejected after its residents campaigned to save their homes.
"Why would we do this?" Coun. Greg Gardner asked Sedky. "You know what, we're looking to you as experts in order to find more affordable housing for our residents in the community, not to assist us in getting rid of affordable housing.
"Please don't come here with a recommendation to get rid of affordable housing without an alternative so these people have the ability to remain in our community. You know, I know I sound like I'm slightly left of Marx, but as a businessman I also understand the economics of this and I understand the pressures on the landowner to redevelop. But we have to deal with real people and real lives and I'm frustrated."
However, Sedky said council should consider implementing a policy that could make way for redevelopment as mobile homes may not be a viable long term solution for affordable housing.
"I do want to emphasize that there are a number of issues and concerns around that housing stock that don't necessarily mean the most secure option for the homeowners is a moratorium," said Sedky. "They're at risk for eviction, there are park facilities that are not well maintained and in terms of building equity over time as a homeownership option, because they don't own the land the mobile home, potentially that value could decrease over time so all of those things don't necessarily mean it's a good option. It's not necessarily an affordable housing choice that I would recommend."
Council's affordable housing strategy is expected to be finalized later this year, to coincide with the completion of the Official Community Plan. However, Gardner expressed concern that none of the strategies brought before council to date would be effective policies.
"We've had three presentations now from the consultant and I haven't heard a solid option I could support for affordable housing," said Gardner.