Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, chairman of the B.C. budget committee, indicates to a presenter there's just two minutes left to speak, during a stop in Kelowna on Wednesday. Sitting beside Ashton is Susan Sourial, clerk of the committee.
Current legislation that allows park owners to boost rents two per cent on top of any inflation-linked increases is proving to be a hardship for many residents, Casey Van Staalduinen said.
"Rent is rising much faster than income," he said. "The compounding effect is making living in a mobile home park very unaffordable for seniors.
"They're getting to the point where they will not be able to keep living there," Van Staalduinen said.
"This is a concern for all senior citizens living in mobile home parks," added Ken Gillis.
Gillis and Van Staalduinen, who live in the Sunrise Village gated retirement community, were among the presenters to a government committee drawing input from British Columbians in advance of preparation for the 2014 provincial budget.
Every year, members of the committee tour the province hearing from individuals and various lobby groups about
what measures they'd like to see built into the budget.
During the morning session in Kelowna on Wednesday, Christine Kashuba of Arts BC called on the government to boost funding for the BC Arts Council to $32 million in 2015 and $40 million in 2016.
She also asked that the Community Gaming Grants' budget be boosted from $135 million to $160 million. Previous cuts in the budget, she said, "created turmoil" for many arts and culture groups.
"Arts and culture is a significant contributor to our province's well-being and identity," Kashuba said.
Tim Watters, representing the faculty at Okanagan College, called on the government to reduce tuition fees at post-secondary institutions, which he said had more than doubled in the past decade, and provide more support for foreign students.
Watters said he personally favoured abolition of all tuition fees for Canadian students at B.C. colleges and universities.
During their presentation, Gillis and Van Staalduinen both noted they weren't asking the government for money.
"You probably hear that all day long," Van Staalduinen told the committee, which is made up of both Liberal and NDP MLAs.
The two men said the province should follow the lead of Ontario to set a lower limit by which the owners of mobile home parks, where an estimated 100,000 British Columbians live, could increase yearly rents.
But Vernon-Monashee Liberal MLA Eric Foster noted that B.C.'s current rent controls on mobile homes are an improvement compared to the unregulated situation that existed before 2007.
"Prior to that, the park owner could raise the pad rent by whatever amount they wanted, so the legislation was brought in to protect renters," Foster said.
Committee chairman Dan Ashton (Lib. - Penticton) said many presenters have endorsed the government's policy of achieving a balanced budget. But he said many also hope that, as the economy improves, more funding will be available for a variety of government programs and activities.
Other suggestions from the public regarding the budget preparation can be submitted online through the government website until Oct. 16, Ashton said.