Residents of low-income RV park in limbo as eviction looms | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Residents of low-income RV park in limbo as eviction looms

An East Kelowna orchardist who sought to legalize a year-round RV park for low income tenants has been turned down flat by city council.
October 26, 2017 - 2:47 PM

KELOWNA - A swirl of uncertainty surrounds the future for the eight residents of an illegal East Kelowna RV park who are in limbo, facing imminent eviction.

Kelowna city council on Monday, Oct. 23 refused a request by Calvin Kuipers, an East Kelowna farmer who runs the RV park, to support his application to the Agricultural Land Commission to take the land out of the agricultural land reserve.

City staff say Kuipers has been a thorn in the city’s side for years, defying bylaw and their attempts to shut down his dilapidated RV park, which sits on the corner of his 14-acre farm on McCulloch Road.

The city has now threated Kuipers with a court injunction and have demanded he remove the seven RVs, some of which are inoperable, as soon as possible.

That has left the eight residents, some of whom are living on disability pensions or welfare, scrambling to find accommodation. At least one of the residents has a diagnosis of mental illness.

Responding to negative social media comments, the City of Kelowna posted a comment, saying it was "working with the property owner and community agencies to find a solution” however Kuipers says he’s heard nothing from the city about helping the residents.

“That’s news to me. All I know is that they want to meet with me to plan how to get rid of the vehicles,” Kuipers said, who added the tenants are welcome to stay as long as the RVs are still in place. “I won’t be charging them rent for next month."

Park resident Macen Mansfield also said he hadn’t heard from anyone other than his landlord Kuipers, who told him he thought he could get the city to agree to push back their final eviction until December 1.

Mansfield said he and some of the other residents have begun looking for a place they could share.

“This is like my family. We would like to stay together if we could,” he added.

City of Kelowna spokesperson Tom Wilson followed up the original social media comment with the following statement: “We’re still figuring that out and it will be part of the discussion with Kuipers as the landlord. But staff are trying to connect with the Interior Health Authority and the mental health association about options for those people.”

The Interior Health Authority originally noted the possible plight of the residents in a letter written by a staff dietician, who was commenting on Kuiper’s original application.

“If this application is denied, it would be important to work with the current tenants to find appropriate, affordable and safe housing options,” Jill Worboys wrote, in a letter dated Sept. 19.

Asked to clarify the comment and whether it would be actively involved in helping the tenants, the health authority provided a statement.

"In terms of providing housing supports directly, or assisting individuals with housing, Interior Health’s primary focus is on the provision of health services,” communications consultant Jessica Hewitt said in the statement.

"However, where housing is a barrier for individuals who are receiving our services, our staff will work with clients to assess their housing and care needs and assist with their housing search," Hewitt said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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