Lark Group’s application to redevelop South Surrey’s former Seacrest Motel and RV Park into 21 single-family lots was opposed by 31 people at its third reading last week, however, only one Surrey resident spoke against the application.
Grant Rice, who did not live at Seacrest and says he doesn’t know any of the residents, used the public hearing to suggest the city adjust its manufactured home park redevelopment policy to classify recreational vehicles as manufactured homes if used as a primary residence.
Prior to last month, Seacrest had 35 RV sites – most occupied by permanent residents.
Residents who lived in RVs year-round on the Seacrest property – located in the 800-block of 160 Street, across the street from White Rock – were given one month to leave the park last August.
Shortly after the eviction notice, Mayor Linda Hepner said city staff advised Lark Group to obtain a ruling from the Residential Tenancy Branch to determine if the RVs could be considered manufactured homes, which would afford the RV owners more benefits.
Hepner told residents to “sit tight” until the RTB ruling.
Provincial regulations require that tenants in manufactured home parks be given 12 months’ notice of the final moving date from the time approvals have been granted and that they be given a payment equivalent to 12 months pad rent.
Seacrest residents started an executive committee that would take the issue through the RTB process. However, after a six-month dispute, the residents agreed to take a settlement package from Lark Group before a ruling was made.
“One of the problems is you’re asking people who are already stressed and on the verge of being evicted from their home to go to the RTB and roll the dice on whether or not they’re going to get a favourable ruling,” Rice said to council April 3.
Rice, who previously ran as a council candidate under the Surrey Civic Coalition banner in 2008 and 2011, and independently as mayor in 2014, said the city should change its manufactured home park redevelopment policy to include those permanently living in RVs.
Hepner thanked Rice for his comments on the policy, and said “we can take a look at that as it relates to tourism accommodation.”
Prior to the vote, Coun. Vera LaFranc said she was initially worried about the displacement of low-income residents living in Seacrest, and thanked city staff and Lark Group for the handling of the process.
“We saw that people were treated with respect and that’s what we would expect to see in (the) future if there are any development applications on manufactured homes and that would also include those that are tourist accommodation,” she said at the hearing.
Council passed the application through third reading.
The next day, Rice told Peace Arch News that he was surprised to be the only one who spoke against the application.
“What I found curious was that there was nobody there to speak, but the place was packed,” Rice said. “The place was fairly full and quite a few people left after people got a chance to speak… People actually went and registered their opposition.”