Belcarra cabin residents lose appeal for lease extension

The eight residents of the cottages at Belcarra Regional Park lost their bid to stay. One of the cabin dwellers, 74-year-old Jo Ledingham, says she has to be out in two weeks. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
The eight residents of the cottages at Belcarra Regional Park lost their bid to stay. One of the cabin dwellers, 74-year-old Jo Ledingham, says she has to be out in two weeks.
— image credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Jo Ledingham will depart her Belcarra cabin to spend Canada Day with her grand children saddened with the news she'll have to leave her home of 50 years.

"It's an emotional roller coaster ride," admitted Ledinham, 74, who told The News today the eight Belcarra cottage dwellers lost their bid last week to stay in their rustic cabins in Belcarra Regional Park.

The group tried to appeal the Metro Vancouver eviction plan, but last week their appeal was denied, setting in motion a plan that Ledingham believes gives her a week or two to pack her things and get out.

"I guess I'll have to find some storage for my things," said Ledingham who has no immediate plans for a new home.

She said most residents didn't make specific plans because they believed the decision would be overturned if they made waterfront property accessible to the public and held special events.

However, Metro Vancouver Parks, which operates the park, was concerned about liability, repairs and other issues and has long term plans for the property.

Port Moody, which has placed the buildings on its heritage inventory, also tried to secure a last-minute reprieve for the cottages, which will likely be demolished in the coming months.

Mitch Sokalski, director of regional parks planning, was unavailable for comment today, Monday.

But Metro Vancouver Parks believes the cabins don’t have heritage value and would be too expensive to upgrade. “The costs for fixing these buildings are substantial and would take years to pay back if dependent on rent alone,” a report prepared last year for the board stated.

The residents, who pay $500 a month in rent, had been given until today, June 30, to leave, although a demolition date hasn’t been scheduled. A new picnic area is supposed to be complete by 2020 and a trail might be built earlier.

Ledingham said she received some assurances from Sokalski that she has a few more days to remove her things and vacate the cabin before it would be locked up and the utilities turned off.

"He said 'You have my personal assurance that won't happen this [past] weekend.' Well that was a relief. You can imagine what it would be like to find out you couldn't get into your home."

Although disappointed she'll have to leave her home of 50 years, Ledingham said she got a kick out of sign put up by the Belcarra Community Association that reads: "GVRD to evict old lady 30 June Happy Canada Day."

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