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Immobile homes

Trailer park residents upset over eviction

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Aug 09/02) - A dozen residents of Husky Trailer Park met Monday night to discuss their recent eviction notices from the trailer park.

Last month, Inuvik town council decided to cut off services at the 12-pad trailer park effective Aug. 31, 2003.

Citing high costs to replace the utilidette, council voted to have the trailers moved out and a park or playground built on the site.

The residents met at the Finto Hotel boardroom to discuss possible solutions to avoid the high cost of moving their homes.

Resident Mike Whiteside chaired the meeting and said the $5,000 offered for relocation won't come close to the moving costs incurred by the residents.

"I got a quote for $27,000 and that's to move it, put it up on blocks and re-hook it up to services," Whiteside said. "The other one I got was $35,000."

Some resident said their trailers would not survive the move.

Town councillor Clarence Wood attended the meeting and Whiteside asked that council pay the home owners a realistic price.

Looking for fair market value

"If you want a park there so flaming-assed bad, why don't you offer us fair market value for our homes, rather than zero," Whiteside asked. "That's what my trailer's worth right now."

He said the new trailer lots are going to cost about $40,000 and along with the expense of moving or buying a new trailer most residents would be out of house.

"There is no way some of these people can afford a $100,000 mortgage," he said. "One lady I know of is in tears ... she has no place to turn to and she can't grasp the thought of what she's going to do."

Resident Judith Venaas said the move would not financially ruin them, but would place them all, at least, in financial difficulty, and if forced to move, they may be forced from Inuvik.

May be forced to leave town

"I'm not sure that we could even afford to stay here, in this town, if we have to move," Venaas said.

They were all upset that they had to find out about their eviction through the Inuvik Drum, but later received registered letters.

When the issue was raised last month in town council, town manager Jerry Veltman said a new utilidor would cost the town too much to make the replacement feasible.

"In today's dollars, it would be close to $500,000," Veltman said.

Whiteside disputes that and says the residents have not had a problem with the utilidette since the town made some improvements.

"We have a utilidor that has been worked on and is actually functional and it's not in bad shape," Whiteside said. There was some discussion about the home owners forming a co-op that would cost upwards of $1 million to bring the park up to code.

The town rents the pads out and profits between $5,000 and $10,000 each year from rents on the property.

The residents discussed one possibility of a rent increase to help pay for upgrades to the utilidette, since their pad rental has never increased.

"I've been here since 1996 and the rent has been $180 since then," said Judith Venaas.

The trailer park was taken over by the town when the previous owner defaulted on tax payments in 1994 and has been an issue of debate with council since.

The residents approved a petition asking council to rescind the decision to close the park. They will be circulating the petition and will present it to town council in September.

Coun. Wood -- who voted in favour of the motion to close the park -- said the meeting had changed his mind on the issue and agreed to sign the petition. He also said he would report back to council at the next meeting with the residents' concerns.