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Northland residents signing repair agreement
About half of the owners agree to plebiscite to borrow millions

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Northland condo board hosted the first of a series of meetings at Northern United Place Thursday in an attempt to get residents to approve a proposed infrastructure memorandum with the city.

NNSL photo/graphic

Melisa Berry was one of the Northland residents who signed the plebiscite at the infrastructure meeting held Thursday night at the Northern United Place. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Board directors contacted were generally very pleased with the turnout with at least 100 people attending the meeting. About half the number of signatures were also attained, which may be some indication that the required 60 per cent of people needed to approve the plebiscite will be reached within the month.

The plebiscite asks Northland owners, who are members of YK Condominium Corporation Number 8, to agree to a memorandum with the city which states owners agree to pay no more than $358 per month on a local improvement charge at a five per cent interest rate in order to cover the costs of borrowing for a $15.7-million infrastructure repair project over the next 25 years.

"June 25 had been the target, but I now feel confident it won't take that long," said board director Pearl Benyk. "I am personally thinking we could have it done in three weeks."

Residents were updated on the work the condo board has been doing to reach an agreement with the city.

Board member Cheryl Fountain is continuing to focus on building consensus among residents and remaining positive on the outlook of the vote.

"Most of the people who came were just ready to sign," she said. "I know some of the board members are actively gathering signatures this (past) weekend and there will be some packages mailed out for people who are out of town with directions on how to sign the petition and hand in their votes legally."

She said while it is important residents continue to express their sense of injustice about how the trailer park problems have been handled by government, most people she has encountered are relieved to be able to finally have something solid to vote on and move ahead with repairs to water and sewer infrastructure.

Among the many residents who were present included Ralph Creed, who has been a trailer park resident for six years.

"I am happy it is now being done, but I thought it should have been done three or four years ago," he said. "I voted for it because we have to move forward and I feel that the city owes us. I pay a tax that says I am connected to the city pipes, but Im not. And they take that tax from me anyway."

Vivian Hansen, who has been living in the area since 1981, said she was pleased with the first meeting and that residents seem to now be looking ahead.

"I thought the meeting was positive and that people are encouraging one another to support what the MOU says now," she said. "Listening to some of the representatives who have been working closely with the city, it sounds positive that they will be working at getting the local improvement charge lower."

She pointed out as well that trailer park residents are paying $220 in condo fees right now, but the price tends to rise over time. Over the next 10 years, she said the price will probably get at least close to the proposed $358, anyway.

"I think it is the right way to go just to get things moving," she said. "Whether or not people will be able to then put all of their houses on the market the next day I don't know."

Board member Lorraine Hewlett contextualized the memorandum with the various options the condo board had explored in recent years to fund the infrastructure repairs. Like other members of the board, she presented the conclusion that approving the memorandum and working with the city was the way to go.

"I was hoping for a few more people but the turnout was pretty good. I know people were quite eager in signing the petition and getting on with the vote," she said.

"I think people had lots of opportunity to ask questions and get answers and I think it was helpful to get some clarification from CMHC."

Another meeting is to be held with residents Friday at the Nova Court Apartment meeting room.

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