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TNRD gives way to residential RVs for North Thompson mobile home park

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The Thompson Nicola Regional District changed course on residential RVs last month, giving permission to a North Thompson mobile home park to let residents live in them for at least the next three years.

It's a move that got near-unanimous approval despite bylaws that ban people from living in a tiny house or RV even on their own private property across the regional district.

The owner of Pine Grove Estates, a Blackpool mobile home park, applied for a permit that would allow RVs on nearly half of its current pads for up to three years. The owner is trying to "avoid additional financial hardship" due to vacant pads at the park, according to a staff report.

But it already had some RVs on the lot.

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It comes four years after a bylaw complaint about RVs at the park. Not only did bylaw officers find there were, in fact, RVs used as homes but one pad had two RVs on it. One of them had an illegal wood heater and an addition, according to the report.

"One of the challenges we have is we know across BC, RV parks and manufactured home parks have people living in RVs. What's happening is when there is enforcement... people are pushed from one community to another," said Alexander Krause, head of the regional district's planning department.

At the April board meeting, he said the permit is meant to be a "compromise," adding that it's not meant to be long term. 

Krause said RVs are not meant to be lived in. The regional district has rules against doing so because they don't have approved septic systems, they cannot be taxed like structures and there are safety risks.

The regional district could extend the permit for at least one more three-year period, but it also has conditions that restrict owners from adding structures or stoves to their RVs.

Although it was given approval by 26 directors, one dissenting vote came from director Merlin Blackwell, mayor of the nearby District of Clearwater.

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"My fear on this, when we do this, is that at the end of the three years or the end of six years... it will not be the owner seen as evicting this if it does not go through. It will be the (regional district) if we decide not to renew," Blackwell said.

It may be the first time the regional district has budged on its RV ban that has faced criticism over the past several years. The Rural Rights Association of BC has called out the regional district for banning what's seen as a more affordable move as housing prices skyrocket in the province.

Last year, the association did so again noting that pipeline workers have been living in RVs in the North Thompson during its construction, including in the Blackpool and Clearwater area.

Krause, meanwhile, told the board he anticipates the regional district will get more applications from property owners seeking permission for year-round RV living.

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