The mayor of Coquitlam and a group of residents are gearing up for a fight with a would-be developer, over the future of a mobile home park in the city.
At the heart of the dispute is Wildwood Park, a 30-acre manufactured home park near Brunette Avenue and Dawes Hill Road.
The park has been in operation since the 1960s, and residents say it’s become a community since then.
“It’s affordable housing for many, and it’s close to the city,” said resident Robert Fulford.
The land was bought in recent years by Ron Chambers, and residents now say they’re getting letters from him pressuring them to sell their homes. The letters claim the property will be redeveloped in three years.
While residents own their homes, they rent the pads they sit on. The letter has spooked residents, who fear their home values will plunge, given a theoretical expiration date on their land leases.
It’s also sparked a rush to sell, with residents hoping to get ahead of dropping values. Those who’ve stayed say the landowner is now renting out those properties and making a profit.
Chambers declined to be interviewed by Global News.
Coquitlam’s mayor says the property is not zoned for redevelopment, and the city has absolutely no interest in rezoning it.
“The long-term plan for this is as a mobile home park. Not as the major development that Mr. Chambers has put forward,” said Richard Stewart.
“He hasn’t even put it forward to the city, he’s only put it forward to the owners as though it’s already done. And that suggests to me there’s some other motive for his letter.”
Stewart said he spoke with Chambers when he first bought the property and told him that the city had no plans to change the land use for the park, and that Coquitlam valued the community as it is.
Stewart said he’s also got the unanimous support of the sitting council when it comes to retaining the park in its current form, and that if Chambers tries to redevelop the land “he’s got a fight on his hands.”
At a gathering of residents on Monday, the message was the same.
“We’re united, we’re here to stay, this is our home, we moved in here to stay here,” said Mitch Hetman.
“There’s a lot of people here on fixed incomes that can not afford to sell … it’s not fair.”