Fate of Triple Oaks mobile homes unknown as Songhees First Nation plans housing project

Most mobile homes may be too fragile to relocate to make way for a planned rental apartment project on Songhees First Nation land.

In question are 41 homes at Triple Oaks mobile home park in the 1300 block of Craigflower Road. It is not clear what their fate will be. In some past instances when mobile homes are evicted from parks and can’t be moved, the owners abandoned them.

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Worried mobile home owners at Triple Oaks recently received eight months notice to move out. Some went into debt to buy their homes. Many are seniors with limited incomes.

Songhees First Nation said most of the homes are more than 50 years old and the park’s aging infrastructure is at risk of failing.

If a manufactured home was built in the past 10 years, it could well be structurally strong enough to be moved, said Al Kemp, executive director of the Manufactured Homes Park Owners Alliance of B.C.

Newer manufactured homes are built with two-by-six studs, insulation and fixed roofs, Kemp said Wednesday. “But if a home is 30 or 40 years old, it is not the same at all. I would say, more often than not, it probably would not survive a move.”

Tamara Brooks, manager of Peninsula Towing, said if tires are flat and the home is not structurally sound, it can’t be towed, and would have to be handled by another company with a low-bed trailer and a truck, which would increase the cost.

Triple Oaks resident Robert Chirrey is surveying fellow residents to figure out what to do. He estimates that between 100 and 140 people live in the 41 homes.

The band member who holds the certificate of possession for Triple Oaks has hired Vancouver-based TribeWorks Creative to wind down what they say is a unsuccessful business.

Plans call for 180 new rental units in four buildings on the Triple Oaks site. Year-to-year leases will be offered. Units will be market rentals and affordability has been incorporated into the design, Songhees First Nation said in a statement. The rental project would be for band members and non-band members

A limited land base affects what development is possible on Songhees land. Christina Clarke, Songhees executive director, said higher density housing is suitable.

Amak Developments Ltd. of Squamish has registered a 99-year lease for the Triple Oaks property.

Michael Hutchison is listed in government documents as Amak’s director. He is a principal in Bethel Land Corp., which along with the Squamish First Nation is a partner in the Cheekye River Development project of more than 1,000 housing units in the Squamish area.

Triple Oaks residents pay up to $400 per month to rent their pad; rates can be higher elsewhere. A well-managed community could charge $550 to $650 per month, and even up to $900 in the Lower Mainland, Kemp said.

Because Triple Oaks is on First Nation land, B.C.’s Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act does not apply. If a landowner decides to redevelop a property, that legislation requires tenants to receive one year’s notice and one year free rent, Kemp said.

Triple Oaks is the latest Greater Victoria mobile home park to close in recent years as landowners respond to rising housing prices and demand in the capital region.

Last spring, residents of 17 mobile homes at Thetis Lake Campground and Trailer Park were given notice because of development plans to build single-family and townhouses on that property.

Residents of a 125-unit mobile home park at Beecher Bay First Nation were given notice in 2013 to make way for redevelopment.

In 2009, residents had to leave a 24-unit park near Pedder Bay after losing a court fight against eviction. Also that year, 17 mobile homes at Seaview Mobile Home Park near Sooke were given notice.

The five mobile home parks represent just over 220 units.

Manufactured homes provide affordable housing, Kemp said. B.C. has 1,000 mobile home parks with about 60,000 residents in all.

B.C. Housing has a toll free number: 1-800-257-7756. That agency works with non-profit agencies to help find housing for people in need.

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