The city’s closure of the Midfield Mobile Home Park has been pushed back pending a court hearing on Nov. 22.
The delay was ordered by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Jim Eamon, to allow residents of the park to argue that the city and the Calgary Housing Corporation doesn’t have the right to close Midfield.
The last residents of the 50-year-old park, which is on 16th Avenue N.E., just east of Deerfoot Trail, has been ordered to leave by Sept. 30.
The decision was a temporary victory for the remaining residents.
“If you’re not willing to fight for your home, you don’t deserve one,” said Rudy Prediger, a 47-year resident of the park and 82 year-old senior, in a face-to-face interview prior to the court decision.
Prediger hadn’t packed a single box. He sat at his home, a double-wide trailer adorned with pictures of his large family, with his cat Mrs. Kitty, and his nephew Solomon Prediger, waiting to be ordered out.
He was among the last residents left in the park. Almost everyone else had moved out before the injunction was granted.
The residents of Midfield Park had been in a fight for their homes since 2000 according to Prediger.
“We’re a community and they want to separate us all.”
In 2014 the city council voted to remove the residents of the park by Sept. 30, 2017, after it cancelled plans to move the park’s residents to another location.
The city offered the residents $10,000 each to either move their homes or hire a bulldozer and demolish them, with up to an additional $10,000 if they could find another location for their units.
“They want this land, but they say they don’t,” said Prediger.
The city insists that it cannot do anything else except evict the residents because the park’s infrastructure is too old, the pipes keep breaking, and the cost to fix them is prohibitive.
According to Alberta Views Magazine’s May 2017 issue, replacing the infrastructure in 2010 was estimated to cost $16 million.
“The city has created this narrative that the pipes are breaking all the time, they’ve created this false narrative,” said Cheryl Link, a candidate for city council in Ward 9 in the Oct. 16 civic election.
“This is my thought: They thought those people are marginalized, nobody will give a damn if we do this,” said Link, who lost out to incumbent Gian-Carlo Carra in the election.
In an interview with the Calgary Herald published on Aug. 22, 2017, Mayor Naheed Nenshi referred to those still living in the park as unwilling to work with the city, while Carra said he felt they were just holding out for a sweeter deal.
“That’s not a package, it’s $10,000,” said Dean Brawn, a candidate in Ward 7 for the election, in a phone interview. Midfield is in Ward 7, which was won by incumbent Druh Farrell.
“Most of these people have a mortgage, $10,000 is nowhere close to financial compensation.”
Brawn helped the residents file the injunction application to the court.
“It’s curious to me why they’re in such a rush to move everyone out. They say they have no plans,” said Brawn.
The lawyer for the residents hopes to argue that the city legally cannot remove the residents of the park if it has no plans to develop the land.
“This council had every opportunity to walk back from a bad decision,” said Link.
“Why would they chuck these people out before winter?”
This injuction doesn’t bar the city from moving forward with eviction notices, but those notices will not be enforced until the outcome of the Nov. 22 hearing.
The Calgary Housing Corporation is allowed to seize properties abandoned before Sept. 24.