Petition asking seasonal park to allow snowbirds to stay all winter
Published Thursday, October 29, 2020 6:36PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, October 29, 2020 6:53PM EDT
KITCHENER -- Some snowbirds living at a seasonal park in Waterloo are grounded and said they don't have anywhere else to go this winter.
The trailer park is set to close in two months. Residents said seasonal homes aren't an option because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions.
Now there's a petition calling for Green Acre Park to stay open and it has more than 750 signatures.
Residents said they're concerned for their safety if they can't stay, and they're hoping for an exemption like one allowed by the city in 2011.
People aren't able to head south this year and they can't stay with family or friends because of COVID-19 concerns.
"I got open heart surgery on the 22nd of October of 2020," resident Earnest Burns said. "I'm very scared to leave my home and go outside."
The petition wants the city and park owner to make an exception and let them stay in January and February.
"A lot of the people in the community have health issues and my dad's one of them," said Stephanie Macneil, who started the petition.
Under city bylaw, the park needs to close for two months every year. That closure means residents needs to find alternative living arrangements.
In a statement to CTV News, park owner Bruce Martin said living at the park year-round is "simply not the safest and best option."
"Green Acre Park closes for just that reason," the statement said in part. "We are a recreational park, not a residential park."
In 2011, six park residents filed "hardship requests" so they could stay in their trailers through the winter. City council voted in their favour, exempting them from the bylaw that requires them to leave for 60 consecutive days.
"It is possible for the city to override and provide temporary hardship given the pandemic," Macneil said. "If it was able to be done in 2011, it should be able to be done now."
In a statement, Coun. Angela Vieth said the city granted the temporary permit "with the understanding we would not permit it again."
"Bottom line -- it's not a safe alternative," the statement said.
For now the park is set to close on Dec. 31 and residents will be able to return in March.