Unhoused flip to RVs, wrestle to seek out parking


Folks residing in leisure autos are struggling to discover a place to park; bylaws limit their choices

Gerald Lee was in his leisure automobile — which doubles as his residence — at 4:30 a.m. when the quiet was shattered by a rock thrown at his windshield.

It price Lee, 63, who depends on incapacity assist, $440 to repair the smashed entrance windshield.

Lee, who was parked on a road in downtown Duncan on the time of the June 30 incident, is a part of a rising neighborhood of unhoused individuals who dwell of their RVs as a result of they’ve nowhere else to dwell.

“It’s actually arduous,” he mentioned.

This previous week, he has parked close to the freeway near a fast-food outlet the place he counted on lights and safety cameras to guard his automobile.

Lee and others residing of their RVs are among the many many casualties of the continued lack of reasonably priced housing within the area, compounded by elevated prices at RV campsites.

It might be a step up from residing in a tent, however life for individuals who name RVs residence isn’t straightforward, mentioned Keith Simmonds, minister at Duncan United Church.

They face bans on in a single day parking, tickets from municipal bylaw officers responding to complaints, residents who don’t need them of their neighbourhoods, fixed relocation, rising prices of gas, and the fear of potential costly repairs, he mentioned.

Simmonds wrote to Duncan council in April asking if a manner may very well be discovered to permit RVs to remain in a single day on native parking tons. The neighborhood has private and non-private tons that may very well be used, he mentioned — together with the church’s personal lot on Ingram Avenue, which has parking for 22 autos.

“Can we give you some form of common regulatory regime that helps and protects folks?” he mentioned.

In his letter, he famous that present bylaws don’t enable folks to dwell in RVs until they’re parked at “overfull and expensive RV parks,” which is a hardship for a lot of.

Parking tons, together with the church’s, are being sought out as in a single day resting locations by of us with no different housing choices, he mentioned.

Even when the church obtained permission to fill its 22 spots, he figures the demand in Duncan would quantity to triple that quantity.

A few of these residing in RVs maintain down jobs, whereas others reside on incapacity advantages. If somebody on social help lives in an RV, their housing allowance is clawed again as a result of they don’t seem to be in an residence, Simmonds mentioned.

Those that dwell of their RVs typically drive round in search of locations to park, whether or not in rural areas or on residential streets. If somebody complains, bylaw enforcement turns up, he mentioned.

Simmonds mentioned it’s as much as senior governments to supply reasonably priced housing, noting that individuals are housed throughout emergencies, corresponding to wildfires, across the province.

Duncan workers are making ready a report on the difficulty for Duncan and North Cowichan’s subsequent joint assembly, which North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring expects to happen after the Oct. 15 municipal elections.

“We have now seen extra [people living in RVs] in the previous few years,” mentioned Siebring, who isn’t searching for re-election. “It’s a part of the housing disaster actuality.”

One situation the municipalities must contemplate is how one can eliminate septic waste and rubbish, he mentioned.

Whereas North Cowichan doesn’t need folks residing in RVs on municipal streets — and even on properties that aren’t zoned as campsites — the municipality understands the state of affairs some folks with out properties are dealing with, Siebring mentioned. “We’re not doing a complete lot of enforcement.”

Bylaw enforcement is complaint-driven, he mentioned — if somebody stays in an RV for 3 or 4 nights and neighbours name the municipality to complain, they may get a go to from a bylaw officer.

Usually, bylaw officers don’t write tickets, he mentioned. “We are going to simply type of gently transfer them alongside.”

Siebring famous that there’s designated RV parking in Chemainus the place some folks have in all probability been staying for longer than three or 4 nights with out complaints throughout the colder months.

However in summer time vacationer season, retailers need the world to be for vacationers, Siebring mentioned.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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