'Calgary doesn't want us,' says couple after judge rules residents of Midfield Mobile Home Park must leave
Residents have lost their court battle and must be out of their homes by Feb. 19, 2018
With tears in their eyes, a young Calgary couple says they feel hopeless after Midfield Mobile Home Park residents lost their court battle, ordered by a judge to leave their homes by Feb. 19, 2018.
"We are going to be homeless," said Calan Lovstrom.
Lovstrom and his girlfriend, Laine Sloan, have a small business and a $60,000 mortgage on their trailer. They say they won't be able to afford to rent a place and pay the mortgage.
"We have to leave the city. We are no longer Calgarians, Calgary doesn't want us. If you don't make a lot of money in this city, get out now, you're screwed."
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On Friday afternoon, Court of Queen's Bench Colleen Kenny found the city had followed the law when evicting the residents. She also dismissed a request for additional compensation.
"These are their homes, they own these homes and many have lived in these homes in Midfield for most of their lives," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice Colleen Kenny.
"I know this situation has been extremely stressful, but despite my sympathy I am bound by law."
The City had asked Kenny to force residents to leave by next Friday but the judge said it would not be practical or humane to force people out before Christmas.
The community — which was built in the 1960s and turned over to the city in the 1970s — is on 16th Avenue N.E., just west of Deerfoot Trail.
Three years ago, residents were told they would have to be out by Sept. 30, 2017. But just days before eviction day, a lawyer managed to get a court order delaying the eviction until arguments could be made at a hearing in November and then a judge's decision.
Mathew Farrell, who represents the residents, argued the city's reasons for the eviction go against the Mobile Homes Sites Tenancy Act.
"This is a sad end to a hard fight and it's certainly disappointing," said Farrell.
"At the end of the day, when you see somebody you feel is being exploited, you stand up for them, and sometimes you don't always win but it's important for us as lawyers and for us as Calgarians to stand up for what we see as injustice."
'Trailer trash' discrimination
Farrell argued that under the act, a landlord can only evict someone to repair, replace or improve a utility, or to use the land "for something else." In this case, the city's only plan for the land is to remove the utilities.
The city said it needs to fix crumbling water and sewer infrastructure and then plans to redevelop Midfield.
In 2007, the city said it would move the residents to a new park which was to be built on 85th Street N.E. but the plan was scrapped in 2014 due to costs.
Residents believe the city deliberately neglected Midfield's crumbling infrastructure and targeted the community for closure because council viewed residents as "trailer trash."
Farrell argued this was discrimination, and that the city had violated residents' charter rights, but Kenny found trailer park residents don't qualify as an identifiable group.
'It's really hard to feel hopeless'
The city is still offering a lump sum of $10,000 per trailer and up to $10,000 each for moving expenses for those who remained on the property pending Friday's decision.
"We intend to support the residents as we can moving forward," said James Floyd, a lawyer for the City of Calgary.
About 10 trailers remain occupied in the park with seven of the people in those homes having "no known plans to vacate," said Kenny when delivering her decision.
Many of the residents are elderly and have been in the community for decades. Most are low-income with few relocation options.
Rudy Prediger, 82, was the named plaintiff representing the residents and has lived in the park for 47 years.
Even the younger residents are left with few options.
"It's really hard to feel hopeless," said Laine Sloan. "We're done."
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