Surrey RV park owner rescinds eviction notice — but not for all residents

Long-term residents at an RV park in Surrey, B.C., are breathing a tentative sigh of relief after the property owner rescinded an order for hundreds of them to leave by May — but not all of them have been told they can stay, and some are still distrustful.

Earlier this month the Peace Arch RV Park told about 300 residents, some who have lived there for up to 17 years, they had to leave.

The park's administration said the decision was prompted by their discovery of a bylaw that prohibits guests at recreational sites from staying longer than 182 days. Those who contravene the bylaw face fines of up to $500 per day.

A letter from the Peace Arch RV Park administration dated Monday, Nov. 25 says staff are "working with the City of Surrey to find a solution to the bylaw issue" and residents no longer have to leave.

But long-time residents Greg and Karona Doubroff, who pay less than $600 a month to rent their RV pad, say the RV park established years ago that the city wouldn't enforce the bylaw.

Ben Nelms/CBC

In 2011, owners Paul and Anna Yoo issued them a letter that stated "Good news!!!!!! The City of Surrey has informed us that all permanent guests (guests staying more than six months) are permitted to stay as long as desired." 

And earlier this month, the city made it clear it's not involved in the dispute between the residents and owners at Peace Arch RV Park and it has no intentions of enforcing the bylaw.    

"We have not approached the property owner or his tenants regarding the use of the RV park, nor have we cited the property owner or his tenants for being in contravention of the bylaw," Rob Costanzo, general manager of corporate services, said in a written statement. 

The RV park's former lawyer previously told CBC News that whether or not the city plans to enforce the bylaw, "the law is the law" and he had advised his clients not to contravene it. 

'This could all change in a month'

The Doubroffs say it's also not clear why some residents have received the letter and others, like them, haven't. They say the inconsistency has led to further mistrust. 

"This could all change in a month," said Karona Doubroff. "I don't trust the management and I don't trust the owner even a little bit."

Ben Nelms/CBC

Paul Lagace, a poverty law advocate based in Prince Rupert who has been working with the Doubroffs and a handful of other residents at the park, said he has heard from others who also say they didn't get a copy of the letter.

"Some of these folks are in a very vulnerable situation," he said. "I just think some clarity could ultimately give them some security."

Greg Allen, the new lawyer representing park, said all residents would be receiving the letter by the end of the day on Friday. 

Background

The park previously said the eviction notice was the result of a recent decision at B.C.'s Residential Tenancy Branch, which governs tenant-landlord agreements in the province.

Sixteen Peace Arch residents filed a complaint, but the adjudicator ruled they're not covered by the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act and thus have no rights as tenants. 

Lagace says that decision will be going to B.C. Supreme Court for judicial review. The decision only applies to the 16 people who filed the complaint, Lagace says, and he suspects many who live in the park would be considered tenants.

The Housing Ministry confirmed that, as of Friday, the park's owners are still under investigation by the Residential Tenancy Branch's enforcement unit.