In May 2014, tenants of Midfield Mobile Home Park (Midfield) were provided over three years advance notice of City Council’s decision to close the mobile home park on September 30, 2017.
Closing Midfield was a necessary reality as the sanitary sewers and the water main are 40+ years old and now at significant risk of catastrophic failure. Such a failure would cause immediate and extreme disruption to the lives of all tenants. It would also result in significant costs relating to emergency response and accommodation. Simply put, The City could no longer delay closure.
The decision to close Midfield Mobile Home Park was not taken lightly. Over the years, much consideration had been given to the future of the park and more importantly, the welfare of its tenants. However, it became clear to City Council and Administration that Midfield’s closure was the only viable option given the poor and deteriorating state of the park’s infrastructure.
In closing Midfield, we recognize that Calgary is losing a very close-knit community, one with a rich history and one where neighbours take care of each other. It is an unfortunate outcome; we empathize with Midfield tenants and will continue to work to make them aware of the available support, resources and housing options.
A Brief History of Midfield
Midfield was first developed on land leased from The City in 1968 by a private developer who subsequently turned over its operations to The City in 1973. Calgary Housing Company has been operating Midfield since 2001. A 2002 engineering report initially identified the deteriorating state of Midfield’s entire infrastructure (ie. sewers, water main) and recommended replacement.
Initial discussions with Midfield tenants regarding the park’s infrastructure took place in 2005 at an information session hosted by The City. This was followed by an open house and special meeting with a Committee of Council in 2006 that provided tenants with an opportunity to discuss six options being considered by The City to address the failing infrastructure. In 2007, The City committed to operating the park and repairing the infrastructure to the year 2012 while a relocation plan was being developed.
In 2009, The City acquired land in east Calgary for the purposes of developing a new mobile home park (ie., East Hills Estates). Midfield tenants were informed of these intentions in March 2010. However, re-examination of the East Hills Estates development plan and its projected costs revealed significant challenges and increasingly prohibitive costs. This eventually led to the difficult decision by City Council to cancel the project in 2013.
In 2014, tenants were informed of the decision to close Midfield on September 30, 2017 and of the cancellation of the East Hills Estates project. Recognizing these decisions would be highly disruptive and difficult for Midfield tenants, The City opted to provide them access to a multitude of resources and supports that met their specific needs. This work has been ongoing over the past three-and-a-half years.
Midfield will close on September 30 2017. Afterwards, while The City will undertake legal proceedings regarding remaining tenants, The City will continue to work to make those tenants aware of available housing options and to connect them to appropriate resources specific to their individual needs
- Replacement and/or repair of Midfield’s infrastructure is impractical and prohibitively expensive, given the logistics of removing the mobile homes and other structures in order to access the water and sewer lines beneath.
- Over the years, the cost to repair, maintain and operate Midfield have only increased over time.
- Approximately one-third of the inspected portion of the sanitary network is in an advanced stage of deterioration, requiring urgent action.
- Midfield is being closed to disconnect and remove the failing water and sanitary sewer network and to remove any existing improvements.
Summary of City Support and Resources
- Through the Midfield Closure Program, The City is assisting Midfield tenants with costs associated in relocating. This included a lump sum payment of $10,000, legal fees up to $500, and up to $10,000 to cover the cost of either moving or demolishing a mobile home.
- Whether in meetings or through one-on-one conversations, City staff, along with an external agency, have been making themselves available on a daily basis to help tenants with their specific needs, to answer their questions, and to connect them to appropriate resources. In the Midfield office, tenants have access to information on housing options and to a computer to help with housing searches.
- The Calgary Housing Company (CHC) has provided extensive support to Midfield tenants in finding potential alternative housing arrangements, including a concerted effort on CHC’s part to tour Midfield tenants through CHC properties. Various CHC staff have been onsite throughout this process including CHC Leasing Agents who continue to meet with Midfield tenants to provide information about CHC housing options and to help them complete CHC applications and forms.
- Perhaps more importantly, CHC has concerned itself with those tenants with low-moderate incomes in Midfield, as well as anyone else who requests help from CHC. In addition to making the availability of a new housing development in Bridgeland known to qualifying tenants on rent reduction, CHC staff have reached out to those same people to ensure they are aware of available housing options and connect them to appropriate resources.
- As result of these their efforts, CHC has been able to place 15 Midfield tenants in CHC accommodations thus far. CHC staff will remain available with information and assistance concerning housing options through the completion of the closure process.
- For well over three years now, the services of Homewood Health have also been made available to Midfield tenants. In addition to providing counselling and social support services, Homewood Health provides information on other rental or housing opportunities, connects Midfield tenants to social and housing agencies and resources, and provides assistance in completing what can be cumbersome applications and form.
- Over the years, Homewood Health has made concerted efforts to reach out to Midfield tenants. They have held housing information sessions where various housing providers were made available on-site to meet with tenants and review the numerous housing options available. In 2014 and 2015, Homewood Health called all Midfield tenants who were seniors, on AISH or rent reduction program to offer their support and counselling services. Finally, Homewood Health will reach out to remaining Midfield tenants once more, via door knocking, to offer their services before the September 30th closure date.
- As vacant lots become more commonplace with fewer ‘eyes on the street’, security and safety becomes a concern. Given this, The City introduced on-site security at Midfield which is now 24/7, and have installed fencing around Midfield this summer as an added security feature.
- Calgary Neighbourhoods will offer additional social work supports to Homewood Health, who is contracted to provide counselling and support to tenants, should capacity to meet the need of residents within the timeframe of September 30th become an issue.
- The City has frozen rent increases since 2008 to enable Midfield tenants with an opportunity to save money to pay for costs associated with their moves and finding alternative accommodations.
- The City has made an Advisor available to counsel Midfield tenants on financial and debt management matters on an as-requested basis.
- The City is making assistance available to those Midfield tenants who need help packing their belongings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Midfield Park closing?
Midfield is closing because it is challenged by aging and failing infrastructure. Unlike typical residential neighbourhoods, the water and sewer lines are located underneath the tightly spaced mobile homes, making access, repair and/or replacement of those lines impractical. It would also be prohibitively expensive given that accessing that infrastructure would require that the mobile homes, garages and other structures be removed.
Did Council consider other alternatives to closing the park?
The status of Midfield Park has been debated for many years by City Councils who have taken great care and consideration in evaluating the situation. As far back as 2005, The City has engaged Midfield tenants towards considering several options in addressing the Park’s many challenges. Considerable time was taken to closely review and evaluate all feasible options before Council was in a position to make a final decision.
Why did The City decide not to pursue development of the new park East of The City?
City Council reviewed the feasibility of the East Hills project and determined that there were several outstanding planning issues relating to:
- the preparation and approval of the area structure plan;
- the extension of utility services to the East Hills Estate lands;
- provision of a fire station in the vicinity of East Hills Estate lands; and
- provision of storm water management for the entire area.
Additionally, East Hills Estates could not be completed in the time frame originally proposed. Lastly, but most important, the costs to complete the East Hills Estates had increased significantly from the original estimate and budget. As result, City Council determined that the project was not feasible.
In making the decision to close Midfield Park, was consideration given to the welfare of its tenants?
Council did take into account the challenges faced by the tenants but it also has a responsibility to balance that with the interests of all Calgarians. Accordingly, Council opted to inform tenants three years in advance of Midfield’s closure, to provide assistance through the Midfield Closure Program, and to provide social services and housing supports through Homewood Health and Calgary Housing Company. Private operators will not generally provide this level of support when closing a mobile home park.
Are Midfield tenants being assisted financially to help them move?
Tenants were offered the Midfield Closure Program which includes a lump sum payment of $10,000, legal fees up to $500, and a maximum of $10,000 to cover the cost of either moving or demolishing a mobile home.
Why isn’t The City offering market value for tenant’s mobile homes?
The City opted not to buy out tenants’ mobile homes. Instead of buy-outs, The City opted to assist Midfield tenants through the Midfield Closure Program, which includes a lump sum payment of $10,000, legal fees up to $500, and up to $10,000 to cover the cost of either moving or demolishing a mobile home. Tenants who own their mobile homes have the option of relocating them if it is feasible to do so.