Barriere couple face eviction by regional district for living in an RV - InfoNews

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Barriere couple face eviction by regional district for living in an RV

Duane and Angie Smith live in an RV on their property in Barriere and have been issued an eviction notice by the Thompson Nicola Regional District.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Duane Smith
September 16, 2019 - 9:22 AM

A couple facing eviction from their property in Barriere is expecting a large crowd of people today to support their right to stay.

Duane and Angie Smith live in a recreational vehicle on the property they own in Barriere and have been told by Thompson-Nicola Regional District officials they must leave.

The regional district has a bylaw that prohibits people from living in RVs year-round and has been the subject of some recent push back from the community.

Duane Smith expects over 100 people to show up at a protest today in Barriere.

"We’ve got all kinds of support on this,” Smith says. “It’s totally overwhelming, just going through such a hard time and to have such support from the community around you.”

Smith says they have lived on the property since May and plan to build a home there. He says they have worked daily to make it liveable, by cleaning up the area and upgrading their septic tank, well water system and removing an old foundation.

“I’ve done nothing wrong here, nothing wrong at all,” Smith says. “This place was a mess, it was a disaster. We’ve done nothing but work every day to clean it up.”

He says that although they are planning to build, regional district officials told them they require a building permit before they will call off the eviction.

“They said if we got a building permit, then we can stay. As soon as you have a building permit, you can live in the RV until your building is completed, but it takes a process to get the permit. It's not a five-minute thing."

Smith says the couple have finished up the blueprints for their home, and are in talks with a contractor. He says although they have not applied for a building permit yet, they plan to do so as soon as they have all of the details in order. He believes the regional district should revisit the bylaw and people who build their dream home should be given more leniency. He adds that even if people don’t plan to build, they should be allowed to stay on their property if they are living responsibly.

“It doesn't matter if they're going to build or not as long as they're environmentally friendly and hooked up to a septic service and have running water, that's their choice to live that way,” Smith says.

A community support group on Facebook called Thompson Nicola RV Rights has nearly 650 members. A community meeting was held in Clearwater last week to highlight the issues faced by those living in RVs, which the Smiths attended. He says two representatives from the regional district were in attendance and was led to believe a change to the bylaw may soon come.

Calls to the regional district by iNFOnews.ca have not been returned.

“There's a lot of people being affected by it, but we’re the ones that are totally under the gun right now,” Smith says.

Smith says they aren’t the only people facing eviction or housing uncertainty because of this bylaw. He says there were other people at the Clearwater community meeting who could also be displaced because of the regional district’s view on living in an RV.

“We don’t know if we're going to get a fine… we’re not leaving. We can’t. It’s just not an option. We’re going to build here, but you don’t build a house and plan to build a house in a day, it takes time.”

Smith says the couple must stay on the property to watch over their pigs, as coyotes and bears frequent the area. They themselves do not have a place to go if evicted, and he says finding a place for their pigs would be a challenge as well. The pigs are a source of income for the couple, while also Duane works as a mechanic and Angie works part-time at a government liquor store.

The protest is being held today, Sept. 16, at the Smith's property at 4051 Dixon Creek Road in Barriere starting at 10:30 a.m.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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