VICTORIA— B.C. New Democrats say that the mass eviction of seniors from a trailer park in Port Edward, just before Christmas, is the perfect illustration of B.C.’s housing crisis made worse by government inaction and a lack of legislation to protect tenants.
The trailer park was purchased by a speculator from the Metro Vancouver area who has been systematically evicting the development’s residents for more than a year. The few remaining tenants received notice from bailiffs and local RCMP officers stating that they have to be out by today, just two weeks before Christmas.
“The seniors and families who are being evicted have nowhere to go and have run out of options,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “The emergency shelter and the transition house are both full. The failures of this government’s policy led to the evictions of these seniors, so at a minimum, the Christy Clark government needs to help them find permanent and affordable housing.”
Under B.C.’s current laws, the landlord responsible for the evictions is under no obligation to offer alternative housing or provide compensation for the evicted tenants. This is despite the fact that responsibility for housing and protecting these seniors has now been transferred directly to the public through emergency healthcare, policing costs and subsidized public housing that wasn’t necessary before the evictions started.
In Surrey, Langford, Coquitlam and other communities all across the province, families and seniors have been forced to leave their mobile park homes, while the provincial government turns a blind eye. The B.C. New Democrats have been advocating for new tenancy rules for mobile home parks since 2007, which would have prevented this mass eviction without any compensation for tenants.
There are currently no redevelopment plans for the site which means it will sit empty after the remaining homes on it are demolished.
“Most people would feel a personal responsibility in buying a trailer park with 30 low income families and seniors living in it, but these heartless speculators apparently have no qualms about kicking vulnerable residents out of their homes, and turning a thriving affordable housing community into an empty lot for investment purposes,” said David Eby, New Democrat spokesperson for housing. “Tenant protection laws are possible and desirable in highly charged real estate markets, as demonstrated by the City of Vancouver’s new tenant protection bylaw introduced last week. The province needs to act.”
BC Housing and the provincial government have been aware of the situation for months, but have failed to do any outreach work to protect the housing in question, or help relocate the tenants.
“The relationship between the mass eviction of low income tenants, like the Port Edward residents, and the spike in homelessness in cities that have never had large homeless populations before is clear and direct. The government needs to legislate basic protections for tenants like these and to help these seniors find new homes,” said Eby. “Ignoring this problem won’t make it go away, it will only get worse.”