'If life was beautiful, we'd all have money:' Vernon considers bylaw for RVs camping on city streets

WATCH: It may be another symptom of the Okanagan's housing crunch: there has been a proliferation of people living out of their RVs on a Vernon street. The situation is causing some tensions with business owners and has the city considering a bylaw change.

In what may be another symptom of the Okanagan’s housing crunch, there has been a proliferation of people living out of RVs parked along 25th Avenue in Vernon, B.C.

The situation has resulted in tension between RV residents and some of the businesses they park in front of and has the city considering a bylaw change to prevent those parked RVs from becoming too permanent.

One of those living in an RV in the area is Bill (he declined to provide his last name to Global News due to ongoing harassment), a grey-haired man with two dogs who says he has found a sense of community parking on 25th Avenue.

He recently acquired a second RV and is getting ready to sell his old one.

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For Bill, living in RVs is a lifestyle choice, but parking his vehicles on a Vernon street is a financial necessity.

“If life was beautiful, we’d all have money, I’d be able to probably afford to pay $1,400 for the luxury of parking in some swanky second-rate … local campground site. I don’t have that. I’m on disability, obviously, because of my health,” Bill said.

Bill says he aims to park on 25th Avenue within the limits of the law, which requires vehicles to be moved every 48 hours.

“There are seven of us now and we all are like a community here,” Bill said.

Bill sits outside his RV on 25 Avenue in Vernon.

Bill sits outside his RV on 25 Avenue in Vernon.

Steve Beskidny / Global News

However, the row of RVs is causing headaches for the businesses along 25th Avenue.

“I wish those people (had) a place to stay. I hope that they do but it’s not good for business,” said JR Muncaster, who runs two businesses out of a 25th Avenue location.

“Our business is dependent on semi-trailers, B-trains and super-Bs coming in. Sometimes (the RVs) encroach on the driveway and the trucks have a bit of difficultly getting into our business and it blocks our signs, obviously, so we would rather that they weren’t there.”

The tension over what constitutes appropriate use of the street has prompted the city to consider a bylaw change to make it against the rules to set up RVs more permanently with jacks and slides on city roads.

“What we don’t want is people setting themselves up completely like it’s a campground,” said Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming.

“If people are going to stay there and stay overnight and occupy a small normal parking spot, the city has indicated that that is well within the rules.”

Bill says he has no issue with the proposed rule change to stop roadside parking from becoming more permanent.

“Whether it is a commercial unit that is not hooked up to its actual tractor or an RV that has a camper that’s being towed that leaves it behind, I turn my nose at that,” said Bill.

“I’m saying to people, ‘Use your common sense, we’ve got to all get along.'”

Muncaster agrees the bylaw change will help address his concerns a bit, but says he’d also like to see the 48-hour parking rule more strictly enforced.

However, the city’s mayor claims the municipality is already strict about preventing long-term street parking.

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Along with the proposed RV rule change, Vernon’s mayor says the city is working on addressing the low-income housing shortages.

“There is a number that are under construction right now and we are hoping by the summer of 2022 we will have significantly more apartments available for people that are supported and subsidized,” Cumming said.

However, so far, the city isn’t looking at offering a subsidized campground, which is what Bill says would get his RVs off the street.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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