Inhabitants of Surrey’s Manufactured Homes Deserve to be Heard

Evicting homeowners isn’t worth the consequences
Alyssa Laube, Coordinating Editor

(Nat Mussell)

As Surrey continues to sprawl, the threat to local inhabitants posed by urban development looms. Communities of manufactured and mobile homes in Surrey are dreading being removed from their lots to make room for big developers’ projects like new transit lines and condominiums, just as family homes in Metro Vancouver are being demolished to make room for high rises.

Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains has vowed to look out for the citizens fighting to keep their manufactured homes in their current locations. For over a decade, he has been pushing for legislation that protects their property and lays out an updated plan for what happens if they are forced to go elsewhere.

Before this year’s provincial election, Bains reintroduced a private member’s bill to increase government compensation for manufactured home inhabitants’ moving expenses to $30,000 maximum, as outlined in the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act. The bill has neither passed nor failed, but Bains and concerned citizens have sparked a debate about the importance of leaving manufactured homes in peace.

The primary issues with moving manufactured homes are the age and finances of their owners and tenants. Many of them are seniors who have settled into their way of life and are too old to manage and repair their properties. As a result, the prospect of moving themselves and their rickety homes elsewhere is daunting and even risky. A few of the structures might not be able to withstand a move, leaving some Surrey’s senior citizens homeless.

Living in manufactured homes has historically been an affordable option for those who can’t pay for rent in an apartment or a mortgage on a house. People who have been living in them for a while are often able to hold onto the low rate that they attained years earlier, but may not have the money to keep up with rent due to inflation and market spikes if they were to pay for a different park’s prices. In the case that they were unable to find any park for their home, seniors would have to enter the unstable rental climate that plagues young adults from the Lower Mainland to Metro Vancouver. Still, that might not be a possibility for others.

Ironically enough, one of the development projects that would be replacing a manufactured home lot along King George Boulevard would be a large senior care facility. Hypothetically, if they could afford it and were willing to abandon their homes, concerned seniors could start living inside the facility. Still, that is a lot of change to ask of a group of people who were quite comfortable with an independent lifestyle and space of their own.

Light rail transit will soon arrive to the city as well. It seems very unlikely that modular homes will remain untouched by developers, but municipal government ought to listen to Bains’ advice.

“These are really nice, small, little communities. They look out for each other. We need to preserve these,” he said in the legislature on Mar. 16, as reported by The Vancouver Sun. “This will be a huge loss to our affordable housing stock.”