Six Belcarra cottagers still remain

They were supposed to be gone by the start of summer, but a group of people living in a handful of cottages in Belcarra Regional Park aren’t going anywhere soon.
And the saga of the residents fighting against their landlord, Metro Vancouver, doesn’t appear to be coming to an end in the near future either.
The cottagers, known as the Belcarra South Preservation Society (BSPS), were given eviction notices to be out of their homes by July 1, but are now awaiting a judge’s decision to see how much longer they can stay.
Their landlord, Metro Vancouver or the GVRD, filed a petition in Supreme Court in August claiming BSPS is wrongfully holding the lease lands and that the regional district is entitled to possession.
The regional district also petitioned the court to have the lease taken out of consideration for the Residential Tenancy Act.
According to court documents, the GVRD claims the lease is commercial in nature and the lands and all living accommodations with the lease are held by a society incorporated under the Society Act, for corporate purposes.
The matter was brought before an arbitrator with the Residential Tenancy Branch, who then decided to send it back to the courts.  
No date has been set for the case to be heard by a judge.
Society member and resident Jo Ledingham said if the courts find in their favour, Metro Vancouver would have to reissue an eviction order, but she’s not sure what a decision in favour of the regional district will mean for the group.
“It leaves us hanging by our toe nails,” she told the Tri-Cities NOW, adding from the group’s point of view, the lease is not for commercial purposes.
She said under the tenancy act, Metro Vancouver has to state the cause for eviction in writing, something she claims the group has never been given.
In 2013, Metro Vancouver served the residents with an eviction notice, which would have seen them out by the end of August last year.
The notice was eventually extended to the end of June 2014.
In May, the group received word shortly after the deadline that Metro Vancouver would disconnect the utilities and lock up the doors and windows, but that never happened.
In the meantime, Ledingham said the cottagers — there were seven in all, but one person left and the building was boarded up, — are still paying the rent for their cottages, but the regional district is refusing to take the money.
So instead, the rent money is going toward paying for the society’s lawyer.   
Ultimately, the group is hoping Metro Vancouver will see that there are advantages to keeping the community within the park boundary.
And Ledingham, who was supposed to be out of the cottage more than three months ago, appears intent on staying.  
“I love this place. It just feels like the place I’m supposed to be,” she said.
“For me, it’s been too long.”
Metro Vancouver gave the cottagers several reasons for the eviction notice, including an interest in expanding the park and improving access to a beach nearby.
The regional district had also expressed liability concerns regarding the water supply and the state of the cottages.

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The society offered proposals to address both the liability and public access issues, along with public programming.

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