When Midfield Mobile Home Park was built in northeast Calgary in 1968 the site was then on the city outskirts. A private company developed it atop an old dry dump next to the Trans-Canada Highway. But things have changed: Today the site could be described in the language of a real estate brochure—ridgetop homes overlooking a golf course just minutes from downtown. Not that there is such a brochure. Not yet. And not that the current occupants of the site will get to live there much longer, because the city has sent out eviction notices demanding everyone be gone by September 30, 2017.
Owners of the mobile homes at the site—now part of the inner city—are tenants of the City of Calgary. In 2000, residents were informed of city concerns about corroded water pipes. Tenants claim the only problem in the last decade or so was when maintenance workers accidently broke water valves and caused flooding. In contrast, the city asserts it’s too expensive to replace the infrastructure, so the homes have to go.
In 2008 an Area Redevelopment Plan stated the goal for Midfield Park is “multi-unit residential or mixed used development”—in other words, condos not mobile homes. In 2010 the city pledged to build a new mobile home park on the northeast fringe of the city where residents could relocate with their homes. But the plan was a bust—in 2014 the new park was cancelled and residents were given eviction notices.
Many Midfield residents still have mortgages on their mobile homes—some of which had resale values over $100,000. The city is offering residents $10,000 for a tenant closure payment and up to $10,000 to move or demolish their homes. Residents claim there is almost no vacancy at other mobile home parks in the city and that tearing a home down can cost more than 10 grand. The city has provided a list of alternative housing options and offered counselling services. Few residents have taken them up on the opportunity for a chat.
“We don’t know what we’re going to do yet. Nobody likes to be wedged into a corner.” – Debby Kok, 12-year Midfield Resident
Rudy Prediger, resident, 45 years: It’s a beautiful community. Everybody helps each other. If someone passes away, 90 per cent of the people show up at the funeral. Where else do you see that in the city? They’re forcing us out. But not me. I’m 82 years old. I’m still shovelling snow for seniors—60 to 70 per cent of the people here are seniors. They can’t move. They’re screwed, and still paying a mortgage—if they knock their place down they still have to pay that mortgage, or declare bankruptcy. The city gave us a list of housing options we can go to—in other words just walk out of here and go to a seniors centre. But we still have to sell our place. We need that money to pay our rent. The city is offering $10,000. I’ve got 1,400 square feet, three bedrooms, two full baths, a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, a TV room; I built a carport and a sun deck and I put a new roof on. I was told my home should go for close to $100,000. I’m not going anywhere. I’m fighting for the people in the park.
Debby and Casey Kok (came in 2005):
Debby: 2010 was when the city came and said the park would be closed—everybody was going to be moved from here to East Hills Estates. They had the planners here with blueprints. You could pick out your lot—based on your seniority you’d get preference for where you wanted to be. Up to 500 mobile homes were supposed to go in there; it was bald prairie with a sour gas well and not much else, but it was a place to go. It saved you trying to scramble trying to find somewhere else to live. And there’s a shopping centre up there now; it would have been OK. But we got a notice in 2014 posted on our door saying they’re not building the park and you guys have to move.
Casey: The cancellation came the day we got the eviction notice. We didn’t want to move and now we can’t. The resale value has dropped way down.
Debby: There are no lots available in the city. The odd one comes up but rarely and they’re far off. We don’t know what we’re going to do yet. Nobody likes to be wedged into a corner.
Fran Hansen (came in 1975 and has since left; in 2014 she shared her story on a community website): My husband and I are both seniors. With lot rent and mortgage payment we pay just over $1,000 a month. Our daughter was born, lived and grew up here. Our whole life is wrapped up in our mobile home. We are finding things very bleak.
Jerry Gammel, resident, 21 years: My one son lives right next to me and the other one is just down the road in the park. My oldest daughter lives across 16th Ave about eight minutes from here and my other daughter lives in Balzac. They’re all within 20 minutes of here. I’ve got notices from the city about where I can move to—I got one that said you can move your trailer to North Battleford, Saskatchewan. I’m 85 years old and I want to move out there and my family is here? I can’t do that. They say you can move into a [care] home. But I can look after myself pretty good. We’re a family in here. What good does it do to come in with a backhoe and rip these trailers down? It’s bullshit. #