July 06, 2016 - 5:30 PM
WESTCORP DEVELOPMENT HAS PLANS FOR UP TO 1,000 RENTAL UNITS ON THE SITE
KELOWNA - A company hoping to begin development of the Hiawatha mobile home park site in 2017 says it makes no financial sense to fix up aging trailers plagued with mould and moisture problems and is choosing instead to bring an early end to at least 36 leases.
Westcorp vice-president Gail Temple says the company discovered dangerous mould in two units at the beginning of the year and had them all tested.
The Edmonton-based development company owns all 94 units in the trailer park and Temple says mould and excessive moisture were discovered in 51 units.
The mould discovered during the subsequent testing was not deemed dangerous, but Temple says the company would have to spend at least $8,000 per unit to fix the moisture problems, money the company is loathe to spend when the units will be demolished soon anyway.
“Even though there is visible mould, according to the experts, none of that poses a health risk, however, we don’t like what that looks like so we’ve decided to decommission the mobile homes over the next number of months,” Temple says.
The units with dangerous mould have already been destroyed and 11 more sit empty and will be demolished in the next few weeks.
Leases on the balance of the 51 units will be cancelled at the end of this month, although Temple says the company will continue to rent to the tenants month-to-month until the beginning of October.
“We won’t be taking those units through the winter months,” she says.
Once empty, the units will be demolished after being tested for asbestos and other toxic materials, Temple adds. Leases on the other 43 units will be allowed to run out but won’t be renewed over the next 12 months.
Temple says the company realizes the move is putting people into a tough rental market sooner than they might have planned but says its been known for several years the park site was going to be redeveloped. Temple says there have been complaints about the early lease terminations but counters the tenants have for the last few years enjoyed affordable housing — rents run from $750 to $1,000 — in the heart of Kelowna.
“The reality is this was coming to an end anyway, they’ve fulfilled their lifespan and it’s time for us to move on with the development,” she says.
Westcorp began buying out owners of the mobile homes in 2008, paying an average of $35,000 for the units, she says.
Plans are to build from 700 to 1,000 rental units, with many of them having two or three bedrooms.
Westcorp Development Inc. is also behind the 24-floor hotel slated for construction over the next two years on the old Willow Inn site on Queensway Avenue.
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