‘It’s maddening:’ North Bay Trailer Park tenants facing August 1 eviction notice

The North Bay Trailer Park lagoon's treatment cell is eight times smaller than what it should be, according to the Water Security Agency. (Herald file photo)

After years of confusion over the state of the trailer park because of an undersized sewage system, residents received a two-month eviction notice on Thursday

“It’s maddening, but who do you get mad at? It’s not just one person’s fault, it’s many people’s fault.”

– Roxanne Beaulieu, North Bay Trailer Park tenant

North Bay Trailer Park residents Marlene Vogelaar and her husband weren’t surprised when they got an eviction notice on Thursday.

It said they have to be out of the park by August 1, but they’ve been planning to move for a while considering its history.

“I’ve got to walk away from my trailer, and it’s worth money. I’ll get nothing out of it,” said Vogelaar, unable to take it when she moves.

The park is located about seven kilometres north of Prince Albert off of Highway 2.

The fear of the unknown dates back to early 2017, when the park lost its sewage permit because the landlord wasn’t fixing the aging system.

Patrick Boyle with Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency (WSA) said the lagoon was built in the 1960s.

“It’s currently severely undersized for the population,” he said. The park consists of about 50 homes.

“The lagoon’s treatment cell is eight times smaller than what the required size is, so we’ve been working with the current owner and the previous owner for many, many years to try to bring this into compliance.”

Understanding of the “difficult situation,” Boyle said they granted the park two extensions.

They had until September 1, 2019 to find a solution before their permit expired, either by replacing the system, working with the City of Prince Albert to pump sewage into their system, or decommissioning the park.

Otherwise, the sewage could leak and contaminate the ground water.

With the deadline approaching and no action on fixing the situation, conversations started sparking about eviction a month ago.

“We don’t have a clue what’s going on,” said Vogelaar at the time, noting she heard people had already started abandoning their trailers and plenty had theirs up for sale.

“I kind of figured it was coming, but I thought they would give us more notice because two months isn’t exactly the greatest,” she said. “Even to get an apartment, it’s hard to find.”

Many of the trailers are too old to move and aren’t worth much, she explained: “They’re old, but it’s still home.”

Vogelaar has been living there for about four years.

Roxanne Beaulieu, however, already made the move to Prince Albert in early May.

She bought a trailer in the park about eight years ago to affordably house herself, her sister and her sister’s two children.

“I’ve pretty much given (it) away to a friend that needed a home,” she said, although she was offered $3000 when she put the 1974 mobile home up for sale.

She said she’s been anticipating the eviction notice and is past the stage of being upset, although she feels bad for people who may have bought in the park without knowing of everything that’s been going on.

“I know there’s some people that literally bought their house for $60,000 probably two months before it changed hands, and then to find out about all this stuff. So they’re sitting there with a $50,000 loan or a mortgage—where are they going to move?” she questioned.

The park’s owner, James Wankel, took ownership in the fall of 2017. He wanted to come up with an agreement with the City of Prince Albert to drain the sewage into their system, but Mayor Greg Dionne said his priority is the city’s residents.

Although she wishes Wankel would have kept his tenants informed, Beaulieu said she can’t put blame on him because he did try to fix the problem.

“Anyone buying in there should have been warned of the situation by the previous owners,” said Beaulieu. “It’s maddening, but who do you get mad at? It’s not just one person’s fault, it’s many people’s fault.”

The land is within the Rural Municipality of Buckland. Reeve Don Fyrk said there wasn’t much the R.M. could do to prevent the eviction.

“The previous owners have had since 1993 to fix this problem up, like not the previous owners, but all the owners in the past. They just chose to ignore it and kept getting extensions and now it’s come to the crunch. They’re shutting it down. People have to move, and I feel bad for the people that have to move,” he said.

Volegaar said she’s heard another tenant is wanting to have a meeting to stop the closure, but doesn’t think it’s realistic.

At the beginning of May when rumours were lingering, she said she’s moving regardless of the outcome.

“I can’t trust it.”

Boyle said the September 1 expiry of the sewage permit is still in place.