Residents of a trailer park on Wood Avenue have won a reprieve from being moved after city council voted to grant the landlord a temporary use permit allowing them to stay there for one year.
The permit also requires the landlord to complete a site safety plan with the Port Alberni Fire Department.
The initiative was arrived at after three failed votes at Monday’s meeting on versions of the motion that would have seen a three-year lease term and more stipulations attached to it.
“I’ve lost a property sale because of this. We live in an industrial area not an industrial park,” neighbourhood resident Roger Haggerty said. “Come by the neighbourhood. Do you want this in ‘your’ backyard?”
At issue is a group of trailer and motor homes whose owners have set up residence at 3868 Wood Ave. The property is zoned C4 highly commercial and doesn’t allow for its current use, hence the temp use permit request.
The property’s owner Jodi Rai has not determined the long-term use of the land, a report from city planner Scott Smith said. Rai wants to continue the current arrangement through a temporary use permit for the next three years.
Neighbourhood resident Mark Snow also spoke against the extension request, saying the move would have a negative impact on property values.
According to Snow, there were no trailers there 10 years ago. But trailers showed up and didn’t move, and now logging trucks park there on weekends. “My property value is going down if this stays or expands,” Snow said. “Why is the city even considering this?”
City clerk Davina Hartwell said the city received 45 form letters supporting the issue.
Audience member Patty Edwards also spoke in favour of the extension. She lived on the property in a trailer when she was younger, she said. The current arrangement represents a low cost housing option, something that the city has in short supply, she added.
Also speaking in favour of the issue, Robert Plante said he lives in one of the trailers with is daughter. He is trying to sell his home in Errington and is living in a trailer temporarily until the home sells. “This is the only way I can do it,” he said.
A motion that would have allowed a three-year extension with five conditions attached failed. Some councillors took issue with some of the conditions, which included a fire safety plan, water and sewer hook-up, improved lighting, a new fence and utility inspection.
“I still have problems with doing this because it’s been so long,” Coun. Jack McLeman said.
A site safety plan and added lighting are musts, Coun. Cinday Solda said. “If residents don’t like the lighting then close your curtains.”
The water and sewer infrastructure at the site would be examined to see if it is safe and in compliance with code, city engineer Guy Cicon said. The cost of the inspection would be $1,000 per hook-up. If anything needs to be replaced then an additional $4,100 in water and sewer fees would be charged.
The city’s pole light provides sufficient light, and any additional lighting would be too bright and inconvenient for neighbourhood residents, said project proponent Kim Rai. Building a fence would be too costly considering the use is temporary, he added. And some residents have disabilities and moving them would be onorous, he said.
“When the economy improves we’ll be in a better position to develop the property,” he added.