Blog | June 02, 2014

By Erika Stark, Calgary HeraldManagers at some Calgary mobile home parks say they don’t know where the residents of one park will go after it closes permanently in 2017.On Tuesday, the city announced that it will close Midfield Mobile Home Park would close in September 2017 because of its aging infrastructure. The residents of 173 units in the city-owned park will have three years to find a new home.“I guess three years seems like a long time to most people, but when you know what the industry is like in and around Calgary…there are absolutely no vacant lots,” said Doug Alton, who manages Watergrove Mobile Home Park in Royal Oak.He said there’s high demand for lots in Calgary’s 11 mobile home parks, two of which are owned by the city. They’re popular with “empty nesters” and older people in search of a place to live without having to deal with another mortgage, he added.“It’s a great way for them to relocate to Calgary,” Alton added. “With what they get out of their homes in other places, they can probably afford to buy a home here and then they’ve just got their monthly lot rent.”According to Homes Canada, a company that specializes in the mobile home industry, there are just 10 mobile homes listed for sale in the eight Calgary communities it represents. There are no listings for vacant lots.“For the people in Midfield, they don’t really have an option,” said Mairi, the manager of Chateau Estates Mobile Home Park on 84 Street N.E., who asked only to be identified by her first name. “It’s kind of a desperate situation for them, and it’s affordable housing too.”Chateau Estates used to be located near Southcentre Mall and moved to its current location about 14 years ago. “It was a wrench,” Mairi recalled, “but at least we had somewhere to go.”Without another park to move into — the city scrapped plans to build a new one — it’s likely that the residents of Midfield won’t be able to stay together after 2017. That means residents will lose their sense of community, Alton said.Maintaining that sense of community is vital when it comes to affordable housing projects, said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, the executive director of Public Interest Alberta.“Let’s talk about how do we build more affordable housing that actually creates community and allows people to maintain the sense that this is their home.”Moore-Kilgannon said the lack of vacancy in Calgary’s mobile home parks points to a “huge issue” in the city — the lack of available affordable housing of any sort.“Decades of bad social housing has taught us that it’s more about building the community than just putting a roof over your head,” he said.“Let’s be creative about this stuff,” added Moore-Kilgannon.Creativity is just what Franco Savoia thinks is necessary to help Midfield residents.“We have three years to make sure that these folks have an appropriate place to live,” said Savoia. “Theoretically, we should be able to get together in the city to do this.”Savoia said the struggles of Midfield residents represents a larger problem in Calgary — a lack of appropriate affordable housing.“As a community, we can solve this particular issue,” he said. “But we also have to solve the bigger issue, which is how we increase the supply of housing in our community.”