Prior to buying it, Deb Heap had a fairly low opinion of what is now the Riverside Landing mobile park on Martin Street.
So did her kids.
“I was driving by with my kids and I said, ‘I think I’m going to put an offer on this,’ and they said, ‘oh my God, what a dump. What the hell are you thinking?’” said Heap. And I went, ‘I can fix that.’ I get kind of excited about things like that.”
Heap’s revitalization of what is, technically, a grandfathered, non-conforming mobile home park, began at the end of June. After purchasing the property, one of her first tasks was to approach the owners at that time and inform them an inspection was required.
“You’ve already had one fire in the park. I want to make sure they’re actually safe to live in. And of course, it was also my chance to check them out and see what I was dealing with,” said Heap.
“I think it was fairly obvious from looking at the outside but they were all just a mess. And there was also what I’d heard in terms of some of the issues with some of the tenants.”
Heap promptly began addressing perceived concerns.
“The previous owners really hadn’t managed things, so as much as I’m not afraid of evicting people for cause, it’s one of these things where if they never had realistic expectations imposed on them or any kind of real rules, you can’t go in and say you’re breaking rules you never knew about. So I just decided that buying them out was the best opportunity to make changes and make them quickly,” said Heap.
The project has been ongoing since June, during which Heap says she has only heard positive comments from neighbours who are happy with the transformation.
Heap too is proud of what she’s accomplished to date, driven in part by a desire to make Sicamous a more affordable and desirable place to live.
“I like the idea of having good, attractive affordable housing in Sicamous. I wouldn’t rent to somebody or sell it to them if I wasn’t willing to live in it myself,” said Heap. “That’s partly a personal thing but partly, I want Sicamous to look better. There’s pockets of it that really need a little TLC, or somebody to come in and say, ‘we can make this better.’”