The dreams of building a home on a piece of land may be crushed after a local couple received a notice from the regional district to vacate their property due to a zoning infraction.
Angie Smith and her partner purchased a piece of land outside of Barriere with the intention of building their future home, but in the meantime, they have been living in their RV on the property.
Since May, the Smith’s have received two infraction notices from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) for violating zoning and building bylaws.
“How can they expect us to leave our land, livestock and belongings behind, unsecured,” Angie Smith said in a letter to the Star Journal. “So, basically we are supposed to live someplace else and pay rent on top of a mortgage. It makes no sense, it’s not fair and it is unconstitutional.”
It began with their livestock on the property they were on – an acreage with seven pigs that should have been four. Smith said the TNRD came to their house because of the pigs but then saw the RV. The Smith’s were about to move to a new property, but couldn’t leave when anticipated.
Smith said the bylaw officer returned and noted he was aggressive.
“He told me, that wherever we decided to go, he would find out and take us to court.”
The couple received the first notice on June 20, stating that living in an RV was not permitted in the TNRD. They were advised to contact the district in order to discuss when the RV would be removed from the property.
In a press release, the TNRD stated that in Canada, RVs are constructed in compliance with the Canadian Standards Association requirements specific to RVs and are regulated under the BC Motor Vehicle Act, but it does not meet the requirements for dwelling under the BC Building Code. Using an RV as a permanent or short-term home within the region is not allowed, under the TNRD’s zoning bylaw and building bylaw regulations.
“We called and told them this wasn’t right,” said Smith. “We don’t have the means to pay a mortgage and rent. When you own property you should be able to do so many things on it, without being dictated.”
A bylaw officer told the couple to expect a phone call back – checking to see if any progress has been made with removing the vehicle.
“At the time, I didn’t know what to do,” said Smith. “This caught me off guard but they never did call us back.”
A few months later, a second notice was received, again, stating the residents could not live in an RV on the property. However, this time, it also stated the couple needed to cease occupancy and remove the RV before Sept. 15.
“We have pigs,” said Smith. “This is a part of our livelihood. We aren’t trying to be defiant but we simply can’t leave. We plan to build our home here, but it’s not going to be tomorrow.”
A remedy would be a building permit but that would only allow the couple to live in the RV during active construction.
“We have been stressed out since May,” said Smith. “It’s always on the back of my mind. I’m worried the bylaw officer is going to come back again and yell at me for a second time.”
The couple plan to build their home in the spring.
“When you purchase a piece of property, it should be a good time in your life. This has been a nightmare.”