Nenzel Road mobile home park?

A second Public Hearing for the controversial proposed development at 545 Nenzel Road was held June 16, 2021. Qualicum Beach resident Bruce Fleming-Smith submitted the following concerns and suggestions to the Mayor and Town Council about the most recent application submitted to the Town by Dean Dreger. A keen observer of urban issues with a graduate degree in architecture, Bruce previously served a number of terms on the Town’s Advisory Planning Commission. — Editor

Please consider the following comments on the proposed 545 Nenzel Rd. Zoning Amendment.

I do not support this zoning amendment in its current form and for numerous reasons, however I will raise a few points that speak to what I see as one key area of concern that should give Council and Staff serious cause to reflect critically.

Mr. Dreger pitches his proposal to Council as an innovative “blended rental/ownership model.” This description may be apt and have an appeal that is in keeping with the applicant’s vision for this development. And [the Town] Planning Department’s documentation uses the term “blended rental ownership model” in its guidance to Council. The problem with this application is that the proposal is for a development that is effectively a “Mobile or Manufactured Home Park”. 

If Council intends to permit… Manufactured Home Parks in our rural lands, then this should be a subject of open public discussion prior to Council proceeding…

It strikes me that the Land Use Designation that the Town is proposing for this property is not appropriate as drafted, it is misleading to the public (given the structure of the application and intended development), and it fails to accurately describe the provincial policy and legislation that would be legally attached to this development.

Mr. Dreger cites the Manufactured Home Site Tenancy Agreement that he would employ for the legal arrangement that would allow for this “blended rental ownership model.” (This document is Form RTB-5 and not RBT-5 as stated in Mr. Dreger’s cover letter to Council.) For the interests of Council and the public, it might have been appropriate to include a copy of the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act (MHPTA) as this is the provincial legislation that applies to this form of tenure/tenancy arrangement. Given that provincial policy and legislation will require that the MHPTA forms the regulatory and legal structure of this development, it would appear that the proposed zoning designation should reflect the fact that this development is more accurately described as a “Manufactured Home Park”.

I say that if it “looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….then it’s a Manufactured Home Park!”

I believe that many residents of our town would be very concerned and wish to look very closely at the prospect of Council permitting a new Manufactured Home Park in rural lands, currently identified in our Official Community Plan for low density single family dwellings.

I have only had time to get an overview of the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and other literature that relates to this type of development. It is clear that the MHPTA has allowed for thousands of people in our province to have housing that is more affordable than conventional freehold title single-family housing. It is also clear that there are a lot of legal complexities entailed with this form of housing. I believe that there are likely numerous important questions that Staff and Council should be asking were an application of this type to be seriously considered. At the very least an applicant should include a copy of the tenancy and terms of tenancy that would pertain to the property. 

I include a link to a recent (2020) article about a Langford mobile home park, Langford mobile home park residents living in limbo. The issue brought to light is “what happens if the land is sold?” I include a short excerpt from this article which deserves a full read as it points to potentially problematic aspects of such developments:

“The group of aged 55-plus citizens are residents of Tri-Way Mobile Home Park, a 12-acre section of homes and greenspace between Spencer Middle School and the Trans-Canada Highway that’s been around since 1958.

However, for residents of the mobile home park who say they were assured by their landlord that their future was secure, the letter they received on March 25, 2019, was an unwelcome surprise.

Probably, they don’t understand what it’s like to be old. And boy it’s a shock when you get there,” resident Doris Mae Honer, 85, said with a short laugh. “A little bit of kindness and understanding goes a long way.”

The letter informed residents the land — part of a larger 50-acre parcel — was up for sale.

It didn’t indicate any changes would occur to the mobile home park, but because residents only own their homes and not the land beneath them, resident Peter Kedge said they were immediately worried.

In summary, I strongly suggest that the Town’s proposed new Land Use designation is insufficient to accurately and legally define the intended use of the property. If Council intends to permit such a new use as Manufactured Home Parks in our rural lands then this should be a subject of open public discussion prior to Council proceeding with such a direction.

I also suggest that if an application such as this were to be taken seriously then it should include, at the preliminary stages, thorough information on the legal structure that will apply to the development and given that the intent (allegedly) is to provide for affordable housing, financial figures should be included indicating how “affordability” would be ensured over future years.

I include a copy of the MHPTA for your reference. Thank you for considering my thoughts.

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