SUMMERSIDE – There’s a sense of shock and heartbreak among the community of Heritage Park in Summerside.
“I’ve been in this neighbourhood for 30 years. Up the road there’s a woman who’s been here for more than 40. We’re losing our home, our family,” said Brenda Gallant, one of the residents of the mobile home/trailer park.
Last week tenants of the park received a notice letter from the park’s owner, Steve Malayny, advising renters of plans to close the park, requiring all tenants to have their homes out of the area by Nov. 30.
“Our trailer won’t be able to be moved because it has a flat roof on it. We haven’t been able to find a park that’s willing to take us because of that. This place was supposed to be our retirement. Now we’ve got no place to go.”
Malayny has owned the park since 2000.
The city’s bylaw only allows mobile homes to be placed in designated parks and not on other residential properties. Even though there are eight parks in the city, most have a waiting list for new tenants.
Morgan Gaudet moved into Heritage Park in January, after months of saving up to buy her mobile home.
“I wish I had been told or warned before buying my home. It would have saved me a lot of time and hassle.”
Her mobile home is 14-years-old, young in comparison to some others in the park.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go. I’ve been advised by my bank that I can try to sell it early, but I’d have to take about a $20,000 loss because it will need to be moved out of the park. And if I were to keep it, I can’t borrow any more money to buy a plot of land and then install it, so either way I’m going to pay for a house I don’t even have.
“It’s been the most expensive five months in my life,” she said.
Some residents believe many of the homes won’t survive a haul.
Sue Campbell, 73, has been living in the park for six years. She still owes $22,000 before her mobile home is paid off.
“It’s all I’ve got,” she said stifling tears.
“The thing is we can’t stop this. And we see his point and we understand his right to close the park, but six months isn’t enough.”
“It’s certainly a big disappointment. I’m madder for the seniors that live here than I am for myself. Most of their livelihood has been put in these homes.”
Derek Key, a lawyer with Key Murray Law, spoke on behalf of his client, saying Malayny is aware of deteriorating infrastructure in the park, including sewer lines, water lines and electrical systems.
“Ultimately, he was faced with the decision to invest in infrastructure replacement, which is private in a mini-home park, and if he was prepared to make that kind of investment. Ultimately he was not.”
After careful assessment, he made the decision that it probably was not a wise investment, said Key.
“He’s given everyone pretty near seven months notice to find another location or make other arrangements, because he will have to shut down the infrastructure given its current condition.”
There are 11 vacant spots in the park.
While tenants like Gaudet and Gallant are scrambling to make arrangements, some have filled out paperwork and submitted it to Island Regulatory Appeals Commission, hoping they will get a ruling that will provide them with more time.
City of Summerside CAO Bob Ashley, says Council and staff are aware of and concerned about the upcoming closure of the site.
“We have started internal discussions to assess the impact on mobile home owners and the city, the opportunities and constraints of possible expansions of pre-existing sites, zoning, and any other realizable options which may emerge as we examine of this situation.”