Tucked between Florence Lake and the foot of Skirt Mountain, the Hidden Valley Mobile Home Park should be an idyllic spot for a seniors community. Surrounded by forest, the air is cool and the neighbourhood is quiet. But a number of residents are living in fear as winter rolls in and is set to bring more heavy rain, strong winds and likely more trees falling on houses.
Shelli Fryer lives in a mobile home at the top of the hill in the park, right at the bottom of a steep embankment that leads up the hill to Bear Mountain Parkway. Fryer moved into the park two years ago and in that times she’s seen trees fall through neighbours’ houses and has had a branch fall through the metal roof over her deck. She said residents are afraid, with some living in their cars and leaving the park whenever the wind picks up rather than risk being home when a tree comes through the roof.
“My daughter and I are sitting there and all of a sudden, boom,” said Fryer, recalling a wind storm that took down trees in May of this year. “The trees right around us were going like this and they were making shots. They sounded like gunshots and it was the scariest thing I ever heard. My daughter and I left the park – well the fire department told us to leave the park because they thought the trees were going to start falling.”
Trees falling on homes has become a common occurrence.
A woman was hospitalized in April after a large tree crashed through the roof of her mobile home, pinning her down. Fryer said the 84-year-old woman has been recovering in hospital since then.
Another house was damaged in that incident, both were rendered unlivable and the residents haven’t been able to return. The person who lived in the second house was homeless for a period after the tree destroyed her home and has since moved into The Wellesley, a retirement community in downtown Victoria.
“I went home and I said to my children, ‘I think I’ve just seen my life in 20 years.’ That was really harsh for me to see that and I was crying,” said Fryer.
Another house was destroyed in a separate incident in November 2021 when heavy rain and wind sent a tree slamming into another mobile home just down the road from Fryer. The original residents haven’t returned to the park, they instead sold the unit and a new trailer now sits on the spot.
Anne Graham, who has lived in the park since 2006, said she hasn’t seen anything as bad as this past year since she has lived in the park. Her house hasn’t been struck by a fallen tree yet, but there are trees behind her property on a hill that could come down. She lives in a mobile home in between where the incident happened last November and in April.
Another property owner, Pat, whose last name has been omitted due to fear of retribution from park management, is worried for the future because trees around have been cut down, reducing the windshield protecting the bigger trees next to her house. Her house has been safe so far, but without those layers of trees, the ones closest to her house are more at risk.
The three have all appealed to the City of Langford, the owners of the park and the developers but say those calls have fallen on deaf ears.
“I just want somebody to take responsibility for what’s happened,” said Pat. “We’re afraid. Nobody wants to rock the boat. Where are we gonna go?”
All three said they have started to get pushback from other residents who live in the park but farther down the hill, that aren’t impacted by the issue.
The Goldstream Gazette reached out to the City of Langford and park management for comment.