Sparwood council made the unanimous decision to deny Spardell Mobile Home Park owner Rick Pater a development variance permit (DVP) at the Tuesday, April 7 council meeting.
Coun. Jenna Jensen brought the motion forward to deny the request but waive the time restriction on the application process that would have prevented Pater from reapplying for six months.
“I feel like it’s our responsibility as council to look after the community as a whole. I know that there have been several public complaints in addition to people who are afraid to speak out. I feel strongly for growth that is sustainable and responsible and I’m not sure if allowing this variance to proceed while there are certain system failures in the park is a responsible choice,” said Jensen.
Coun. Margaret McKie backed this viewpoint and said, “I am not going to support this because I think the water system should be fixed before any pads are put in there.”
The DVP would have allowed Pater to expand the mobile home park to add four new pads without having to adhere to modern building standards including street lighting specifications, curbs and gutters and a narrower road width.
Of the DVP Pater said, “It makes no sense to have half a block of sidewalk [in only one section of the park]. I do have a water problem in the park in terms of the water distribution system and I want to devote all my energies to address that. Any restrictions added to this variance would take away from me fixing the water issues so I ask that it just be granted as is without any conditions to it.”
An outspoken resident of the Spardell park Mary Jane Leppard who spoke during council’s previous informal hearing on the subject in March was also present.
“I don’t want this to go forward because of all the water problems,” said Leppard, detailing how in the past week alone she has had to use water facilities elsewhere in order to shower and that work hours have had to be missed in order to allow workers to fix her plumbing so she could flush her toilet.
“This is getting really frustrating for me,” she said. “I can’t drink water at home, I never know when I’m going to have water for a shower. It’s very frustrating and I wish someone would help us have drinkable water and water all the time.”
According to Manager of Planning Nelson Wight, who has been working with Pater and Interior Health on the water issue, council is still waiting on concrete plans from Pater on how to go about improving the water distribution system.
“Until we receive plans on how he intends to improve the water distribution system we have nothing new to provide to council,” said Wight.
With council’s denial of the permit, Pater’s reapplication will be considered a new one and will have to be readdressed to council and Spardell residents as new information on the distribution and quality of the water arises.
Coun. John Baher asked if the reapplication would necessitate open houses again.
“We would serve everybody again and that’s not such a bad thing because ownership and residence tenancy does change in a mobile home park perhaps more quickly than a residential subdivision,” responded Chief Administrative Officer Terry Melcer.
Mayor Cal McDougall added, “It would also give us a clearer indication of what is moving forward with the residents.”