Low-income RV park in orchard country won't fly with Kelowna council | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Low-income RV park in orchard country won't fly with Kelowna council

An East Kelowna orchardist who sought to legalize a year-round RV park for low income tenants has been turned down flat by city council.
October 24, 2017 - 11:15 AM

KELOWNA - An East Kelowna orchardist who sought to legalize a year-round RV park for low-income tenants has been turned down flat by city council.

Council has struggled to rein in illegal RV parks on agricultural land and took just minutes to vote down the proposal which land use planner Melanie Steppuhn said in her report to council was an attempt by applicant Calvin Kuipers to “legalize the illegal use” of a piece of his 14-acre farm on McCulloch Road.

“It came as no surprise to me,” Kuipers said, after making his pitch. “It cost me $1,500 and it bought me an extra year."

Kuipers was asking Kelowna council to support his application to the Agricultural Land Commission to allow a non-farm use on a small portion of his land where the RV park is located.

Kuipers has owned the property for 27 years and says the sunken corner of his land where the park is located is unusable for farming because of a high water table and compacted soil.

In her report, Steppuhn noted the city’s rural planners and the bylaw department have received numerous complaints about permanent year-round tenants living in RV parks in rural areas, including Kuipers, and are currently pursuing legal action against several of them.

She said his proposal went against a variety of planning and housing principals and supporting Kuipers’ application would set a bad precedent by creating low income housing in an area far from support services.

As well, Steppuhn said Kuipers had not lived up to the restrictive covenants he had previously agreed to in exchange for approval of the construction of Frequency Winery, which sits on a corner of land opposite the RV Park.

Council's decision — plus the threat of a court injunction by the city — means the eight tenants living in the seven RV units are facing imminent eviction, Kuipers said.

“I told them all last night, so they’re all looking for a place,” he said. “I don’t know what they are going to do. It’s a tough rental market out there.”

Besides the small RV park, Kuipers raises alpacas and sheep, and keeps a large vegetable garden while growing grapes for Frequency Winery.

Kuipers said rent in the RV park was $500 per pad, bringing in $3,000 a month, less the cost of maintaining the toilets and showers.

He claims that renting to year-round tenants allows him to keep farming while renting to tourists took him away from his other farm activities during the critical summer months.

“It was too much hassle, signing them in and getting them set up,” he said. “You never know when they are going to show up and then you have to drop everything to help them.”

Kuipers is scheduled to meet with city officials next week to plan how to remove the seven RVs currently on the site and return it to agricultural land.

— This story was updated at 4:16 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 to fix two typos pointed out by reader Lisa Jantz.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 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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