Trailer park relocation still on hold

Owners of a mobile home park in Hay River might have jumped the gun when they sent a letter to park residents informing them to be prepared to move – preparations that would mean extensive upgrades to older units.

Last year, park owners Rowes Construction presented council with an idea to move the trailers to Aspen Heights, or the Westview subdivision, a newer section of the 553 neighbourhood across from the industrial area. Ultimately, the idea would lead to the development of the trailer court into a multifamily dwelling neighbourhood as per the town’s current planning bylaw.

However, moving the trailers requires permits which town council has been hesitant to provide, a fact that has not changed.

“We wanted to let tenants know that we’re looking at development in the Westview subdivision,” said court manager Michelle Schaub, “so if they do have concerns about what’s going on they can ask us questions or go to the town of Hay River (for guidance).”

Schaub said the letter was meant to inform tenants of the intended changes and encourage park residents to seek help from town council in obtaining permits to relocate mobile homes.

Schaub, who said the owners are open to assisting with moving the trailer units, said the town is not presently interested in proceeding with the venture.

Acting mayor Ken Latour said last year council decided not to grant permits to move individual homes.

“It was more than we could justify spending a large sum of money on the project,” he said. “At that time, there was more than an available housing market and the economy wasn’t exactly booming. The concessions they wanted, the town didn’t agree with, and part of that was permitting movement of trailers. We didn’t think we could accept what they wanted to do because it wasn’t favourable for the town.”

Latour said council is willing to reopen the dialogue. Currently town council is waiting to hear back from their planner on the feasibility and potential timing of the project.

“We’re not closing the door,” he said. “They can come back and meet with administration or (present) as a delegation at council.”

Another of Latour’s concerns is that some of the older trailers won’t be able to be moved into the new mobile home park subdivision because they are too old. According to the National Building Code of Canada, once a trailer reaches a certain age, it is unsafe to move.

“It will be problematic for some people, and it’s going to be a huge issue,” said Latour. ‘We’ve already engaged planners to work with it. We realize it’s a serious situation for some folks, but the working relationship (with the mobile home park) has to be re-established.”

One such resident is Al Gagnon, who said he might not be able to afford the upgrades necessary to move his unit.

However, Schaub said Rowes is willing to work with residents and the town.

“I don’t understand why the town in not willing to work with us,” said Schaub. “We want to work with town and make sure everyone stays happy. It’s not like we were going to just give tenants notice and move them off the trailer court. We’re not going to evict people.”