A Vernon trailer park owner is stuck in a bind: raw sewage is flowing in the park, and she can’t afford the expensive upgrades needed to fix the issue.
Carol Goldstone, 73, inherited the Crown Villa trailer park on Okanagan Avenue when her parents passed away in the late 1980s. She’s owned the aging park ever since, and says the infrastructure is now well past its life expectancy.
“It’s past its lifetime and we have the problem of the sewer going down the driveway,” she said Wednesday.
“I’d fix it tomorrow, but we have no money to fix it,” she added.
Interior Health has been pushing her to fix the problem and has said it will start issuing fines if the problem remains unsolved.
This morning, Goldstone was served her first ticket for $345.
She said she plans to appeal any tickets she’s given, but was advised she won’t get a court appearance for at least six months.
“(Interior Health) wants the whole park redeveloped … and it’s going to be massive money,” she said, explaining she’s already had to pay an expert to come look at the park at a cost of $425, and that’s just the beginning.
One would be hard pressed to find a cheaper place to rent in Vernon. Goldstone charges between $260 and $295 a month pad rent, wanting to provide residents with affordable housing.
There are 12 units in the park plus Goldstone’s unit, and she wonders what they’ll do if the park is shut down. The residents all own their units, but Goldstone says the trailers are so old they cannot be relocated.
“I think everybody’s really frustrated here and I can’t blame them, because I mean, it’s awful,” she said.
Goldstone said she’ll likely either have to get some funding from the province to make the repairs or the park will be shut down. She said she tried to go into receivership to have the government help her restructure the park, but to no avail.
Phil Tomkaluk has long been a resident at the park. He and other residents have been putting up with the sight and smell of exposed sewage for several months.
“This happens just about every day,” he said of the sewage pooling on the park roadway.
Tomkaluk said he’s not low income and could afford to move to another place if the park were to shut down, but that’s not something he wants to consider.
“We love it here, that’s why we’re here,” he said. “My place especially, I’ve got the view of the hillside. I really don’t want to move.”
Resident Lisa Cantafio said she’d like more transparency from the owner, who told her that her’s was one of three units causing the problem.
“I want to see proof of where these (septic) tanks are and who’s all connected to them,” she said. “I didn’t even know there were five tanks under us until she told us recently.
“If she would have taken care of the tanks like she said, we wouldn’t be in this problem,” Cantafio added.
Goldstone said she has pumped the tanks but was told by Interior Health that the septic system is overtaxed.
“I’m already in a deficit trying to keep this place floating,” she said, adding she paid $180,000 to prevent the park from being sold in the 1980s, when her parents passed and the public trustee took over their estate. “I have every penny I ever owned in here…I’ve done the best I can for 33 years and I’m just at the end now.”