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CVRD considers allowing homes to be built in Saltair trailer park

CVRD is on the verge of amending a bylaw that will allow for on-site homes to be built in a manufactured home zone

Cowichan Valley Regional District is on the verge of amending a bylaw that will allow for on-site homes to be built in a trailer park in Saltair.

The move comes amidst an outcry from locals who are saying CVRD officials are sending affordable housing to the wall in the area.

A public hearing has been scheduled for March 6 at the Mt. Brenton Centre in Saltair.

"The CVRD is on the verge of changing affordable housing in the Cowichan Valley forever," wrote Saltair resident Lynn Smith, who is against amending the bylaws, in an email to the Chronicle. "[It] is on the verge of amending the Manufactured Home Park MP1 zone bylaw in Area G/Saltair. All CVRD manufactured home parks zoned MP1 allow only manufactured homes.

"What does this mean to affordable housing in the CVRD? It means that land speculators will be looking at properties zoned MP1 as land grabs. The past tenants of Seaside Manufactured Home Park (Seaside Trailer Park) could tell you what it is like to be evicted to the curb."

Back in 2007, WCY Rentals bought Seaside Trailer Park, planned for re-development, and ended up evicting many residents who were living in manufactured homes in the park. Very little happened apart from a few fallen trees back in April 2008 that forced some residents out quicker than they would have liked.

The park was home to many seniors who were able to live in waterfront properties at an affordable cost on low income.

In July of last year, the company was given the go-ahead to re-develop the park that they now want to turn into a "housing subdivision" with many homes being built on what used to be occupied by trailer rentals — but they need the bylaw to pass at the CVRD first.

"The density in the park would change to nine on-site built homes per hectare," wrote Smith. "A nine on-site built homes subdivision is a high density residential subdivision and does not belong in a manufactured home park MP1 zone. The CVRD is under no obligation to amend these amendments to Area G/Saltair MP1 zone."

If the amendment goes through, Smith fears a similar approach will be taken by developers across the valley and beyond.

"If the CVRD approves theses amendments [it] will change the face of affordable housing and possibly changed the density allowed in rural and semi-rural areas in the Cowichan Valley forever. With the CVRD staff tailoring an amendment to a zoning bylaw for one developer others in zones such as R2 & R3 will also expect equal treatment. Saltair would change forever. Seniors have helped build our community and country for us and we need to ensure they are taken care of in their golden years not tossed to the curb by developers and the CVRD when they create policies that somehow fail the very  people they are intended to protect," she said.

"What happens in one CVRD electoral area zoning bylaw is like a virus and spreads to other electoral areas. It can even set a precedent. The CVRD board has placed the burden of changing the face of affordable housing in the CVRD MP1 zone upon the Area G/Saltair community's shoulders."

Fellow Saltair resident Megan Terepocki is on the same wavelength as Smith.

"The CVRD has a manufactured home park redevelopment policy that was written in response to what was happening at Seaside trailer park, to try and prevent this very thing from happening. Yet they are now supporting this and ignoring the intent of the policy," said Terepocki in an email.  "This change is in opposition to the Area G Official community plan. This is a rural area, it does not support this level of density in any of its zones. However, this application has passed (first and second) readings at the CVRD to allow this density of housing in a manufactured home park zone. There is something quite obviously askew with this picture.

"Aside from the permission for this one developer to have urban-style density, and the threat to the thousands of people living in MP1 manufactured home parks, the sewage, for one, is going to be a big issue, as the system is not designed for the density. There are other side problems, including the sloughing off of the ocean-side bluffs which were not properly prepared. The worry is that these will become infrastructure costs passed on to the community, who did not have any say in the matter, and the developer will take the money and run."

Notably, CVRD Area G director Mel Dorey is in support of the bylaw amendment, seeing the past evictions at Seaside Trailer Park as "not relevant to this situation" according to Terepocki.

The CVRD public hearing will start at 7 p.m. at the Mt. Brenton Centre, 3850 South Oyster School Road in Saltair.

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