Bylaw change still 'criminalizes poverty' in the TNRD, says advocate for long-term RV dwellers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bylaw change still 'criminalizes poverty' in the TNRD, says advocate for long-term RV dwellers

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July 30, 2020 - 5:30 AM

A new bylaw amendment dealing with RV dwellings in the Thompson Nicola Regional District has entirely missed the mark, say critics.

Tom Coles has been the spokesperson for the Rural Rights Association of B.C. since the summer of 2019 and he has pushed for a change to a bylaw that saw people evicted from RVs on their own property. They might have hoped an impending change to the bylaw would rectify the situation, but the only change now allows year-round living in a specific type of manufactured home and only in appropriately zoned areas.

“(Our members) are not in the least bit surprised because it’s an issue that the (regional district) seems to not want to face and deal with, they are very reluctant to change laws that are, in essence, criminalizing poverty,” Coles says. “Seniors constitute a large number of the people living in RVs because they can’t find a place to live even if they could afford one. Park models, if you look at a park model, they're incredibly expensive.”

The movement by the Rural Rights Association of B.C. led to the regional district releasing a survey on the topic and the amendment to the Manufactured Home Park Bylaw. The bylaw now allows for year-round living in a slightly different type of model than previously allowed, and only within manufactured home parks.

Regina Sadilkova, director of development services with the regional district, explains the difference between the newly allowed park model unit and a traditional manufactured home is that the park model unit is on wheels, while the traditional manufactured home has a stationary base.

“Some folks, if you show them a picture of a park model compared to a manufactured home they might not know the difference, but they are a little less expensive and they are easier to set up because you don’t need a crane and they don’t need to be hoisted into place,” Sadilkova says.

The park model units that are now eligible to set up in one of the 36 manufactured home parks around the regional district can be done with a $100 fee.

Coles says this amendment does nothing for those who fear eviction while living in an RV on their own property.

“It is of no benefit whatsoever to the people that we’re addressing in our organization who are living in RVs. (The regional district) has skirted the issue completely and it hasn’t done anything,” Coles says.

READ MORE: Barriere couple face eviction while living in RV

Sadilkova says there are currently no plans for the regional district to take another look at changing the bylaws for RV dwellers. She says RVs are not considered safe to live in year-round as they aren’t subject to building inspections like manufactured homes are.

“We are aware that there are people in RVs around the Thompson Nicola Regional District and my concern is that there may be people who think it’s allowed everywhere but our bylaw is typical of almost all bylaws of the whole province other than the Columbia Shuswap Regional District,” Sadilkova says. “There has been history with people who move into RVs and use the electrical circuits. They get little sheds, they plug in a freezer, in the winter they might plug in a heater and in the manual, it says it is not constructed for permanent habitation.”

Coles says his association will continue to advocate for those wishing to live year-round in RVs.

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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