Summer has arrived, bringing its annual housing crunch along with it.
Tofino and Ucluelet’s lack of rental housing has become a year-round crisis, but that lack becomes a void each spring as seasonal workers make plans to move to the West Coast and locals get displaced when their homes head to the short term rental stock.
Ucluelet resident Patrick Mason says he’s found himself “between a rock, a hard spot and a harder spot” after learning the site he’s been renting to park his trailer since the fall of 2019 would be skyrocketing in price this summer.
“I’m in a spot where I have to leave town right now,” Mason told the Westerly News last week, adding he has been living in the trailer he owns for six years. “That’s my house and, unless I find a place to park it, I have to leave town and with 10 days notice, I have no idea where I’m going.”
Mason said he moved to the campground at Island West Resort in October 2019 and has paid a winter monthly rate of approximately $630 with that rate increasing to approximately $950 during last year’s summer months. He said he was prepared to pay the summer rate again this year, but recently noticed other residents of the campground leaving and phoned his landlord, who advised him that the monthly rate would be replaced by a $50 daily rate, which equates to roughly $1,500 per month before taxes and is well above what he can afford.
“There are a bunch of people being affected by this,” he said. “There’s a lot of people living in trailers these days. I’ve been in mine for six years. it’s a nice trailer, it’s a clean trailer, there’s nothing wrong with it, I’ve never had any complaints.”
Island West Resort’s grounds manager Ron Barker told the Westerly the company has always offered a monthly rate in the winter and moved to a daily rate in the summer, but decided to help residents out last summer by offering a monthly rate, which it cannot afford to do again this year.
“We’ll go broke. The company might as well close the doors,” he said. “Last year we accommodated them because a lot of people didn’t have jobs… Everyone was struggling last year so, to help people out, we did this. If you keep doing stuff like that, how does a business survive?”
He said a monthly rate is not on the table this summer.
“It’s not like we’re kicking them out of town…We’ve increased our rates to $50 a day. If they want to stay at daily (rates), they can stay at daily (rates), but it’s a campground. We’re not licensed to have year-round people there in one spot, we’re only maximum at six months at a time,” he said. “It’s not a mobile home park. It’s strictly a campground.”
He said business has been tough over the past year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions as well as the restrictions placed on the resort’s Eagle’s Nest Pub, adding that Island West, like many local businesses, relies on a strong summer economy to survive staying open during the winter.
He said the company has also found a tough time hiring staff and that he was happy to see the District of Ucluelet launch a seasonal worker housing project this year to help find spots for RV owners.
“There is no real place to rent in this town, so by the city doing what they’re doing I think it’s fantastic. Maybe it will give more opportunities for people to have a place to stay and then they can work up here because there is a shortage of workers up here,” he said. “We have a hard time getting workers because there is no workers in this town.”