B.C. residents who live on water lack basic tenant protections

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      Marc Edge got a going-away present along with the notice to vacate that his landlord gave him.

      It was a $25 gift card for Earls restaurant.

      That works out to $1.25 for each of the 20-plus years that the author and media scholar has been a tenant at the Riversbend Floating Home Village in Richmond.

      Edge lives aboard Markenurh, his 40-foot sailboat on which he also wrote five books. Four of these were about the media industry, and one was about hockey.

      “Is this a joke?” Edge recalls telling Omar Lalani, the marina manager who wrote him that he has until July 1 to leave.

      Lalani confirmed to the Straight that Edge didn’t like the gift. He said the gift card was a gesture of appreciation for the man’s long stay at the Annacis Channel marina.

      “I told him, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean to offend you. I’ll cancel it,’ ” Lalani said in a phone interview.

      Edge, who is also a former Vancouver journalist, was working on a new book when he got the notice to vacate dated May 7, 2021.

      “I’ve been here for 20 years, and I’ve seen them all come and go,” Edge told the Straight by phone from the Markenurh. “I never thought I’d be, you know, thrown out and sold down the river like this.”

      Edge knows there’s nothing he can do about the situation.

      Neither the Residential Tenancy Act nor the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act covers people living in float homes and boats moored at marinas.

      “I think that people who decide to live on the water need to know that they have no protection,” Edge said. “And if lots of people are going to be living on the water, maybe they should have some sort of protection.”

      Edge said he is paying a $505 moorage fee per month at Riversbend. He also said that before receiving the notice to vacate, Lalani told him on the phone that the marina is raising his moorage to $1,400.

      “I said, ‘You can’t do that.’ And he said, ‘Yes, we can,’ ” Edge said. “Apparently, there’s nothing to prevent them from raising the moorage as much as they want or even kicking you out…if they don’t like you or they’ve got somebody who can pay more.”

      Edge said he told Lalani that he will talk to the founder and chair of the Tri City Group of Companies, which owns the marina.

      “I know the owner, Michael Goodman, who’s a big fan of my books. So I said, ‘Well, I want to talk to Michael.’ I said, ‘Does Michael know about this?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yes,’ ” Edge said.

      Before he got in touch with Goodman, Edge received the notice, which also stated that the marina is leasing his berth to a float home for $1,400 a month.

      Lalani offered another version, saying he gave Edge a chance to match the rate for a float home.

      The marina manager said Edge initially refused but later said that he was willing to pay more.

      Then, supposedly, Edge changed his mind and suggested that the marina should instead increase the moorage fee for float homes.

      Lalani said that it was all about the marina making a business decision.

      Edge provided the Straight a copy of the letter sent to him by Lalani.

      In it, the marina manager wrote: “Due to increased taxes and a major increase in our lease payments to the Port of Metro Vancouver and other rising costs, we are no longer able to offer moorage at rates below the float home rate for spaces that can fit floating homes.”

      In the letter, Lalani also told Edge that he had located an available moorage spot for the author at a nearby marina.

      Lalani told the Straight in the interview that there has been an increased demand for float home spots, noting that it’s an affordable housing option.

      He said that Edge is the only remaining sailboat tenant at the marina.

      Edge said he hasn’t written a new word for the book he’s working on since he received the May 7 notice to vacate.