The illegal trailer park beside Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue has been cleared out.
Property owner Randy Brown spent last week removing the RVs, fifth wheels and campers—at least a dozen—from the Port Alberni property and making multiple dump runs to get rid of garbage left behind by former residents.
Brown was required by the City of Port Alberni to remove the derelict trailers by a certain deadline. He had moved the trailers onto his property in 2020 without approval to provide housing for people living rough on the street.
“The city does have an approved court order in order for us to move whatever is remaining at the end of a 45-day period, which I think is coming up in two weeks,” Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said Friday, Nov. 17.
Brown said he moved the trailers to another piece of property he owns so he can “clean them out and then put them up for sale to see if I can get any money for them.” He said he thought about moving them to another encampment of trailers on Josephine Street, where he has moved trailers in the past, but changed his mind.
“I don’t think the city wants them there.”
Brown racked up $130,000 in fines for having the trailers on site without permission or proper permits. Bylaw officers visited the property daily in late 2020 and early 2021, ticketing Brown and someone Brown says is co-owner of the property.
“The city is still expecting that to be paid,” Minions said. The debt “is registered on title of all the properties (Brown) owns within the City of Port Alberni. So it’s not a choice and it’s too late to fight. We will be enforcing it.”
Brown said he refuses to pay the fines. “I can’t believe how the city orchestrated this whole thing. I am a partner in this property. We disputed every ticket,” he said. “For some reason they put a judgment on me, not my partner.”
Brown said having the debt assigned to all his properties has already cost him the sale of one property in the city.
Brown said in lieu of paying the fines he would rather make a donation of $130,000 to the Salvation Army’s mobile food truck, which kept residents of the trailer park fed since 2020.
The trailers were required to move from the property on Fourth Avenue once the Walyaqil Tiny Home Village opened next door. The tiny homes, also referred to as sleeping “pods,” were built as an option to house people who were staying in the derelict RVs, trailers and campers on the lot next door. Twenty homes have been built and all the residents in the trailers were offered spots in the new complex, which the Port Alberni Friendship Center is managing.
“We are really excited to see people having moved in and I know the Friendship Center is working really hard…to get everyone comfortable and kind of move through the transition as smoothly as possible,” Minions said.
“For us, from the start, it was very much about moving people from the trailers to safer, secure housing,” she added. “My understanding is that the vast majority of the people who were living in the trailers now have been offered a pod and either are moved or choosing to go elsewhere.
“We’re really looking forward to having what we considered a dangerous way of living in the trailer park shut down and an end to that kind of unfortunate era that has existed, and moving on to people having safe and secure housing.”