The Rural Rights Association of B.C. (RRABC) held a meeting recently as a membership drive while also detailing its statement of purpose to the public.
The group, which formed about three months ago, was created after unclear bylaws involving the use of recreational vehicles on private property were being enforced by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD).
“We were told by a regional bylaw officer that it was illegal to have anyone stay on your land, period, for any longer than two weeks, which we have since found out isn’t true. There is no such bylaw,” said Tom Coles, president of RRABC.
“The problem is RVs and people living in them are really just a symptom of a far greater problem and the problem is wages are stagnating, mills are shutting down and jobs are being lost.”
More specifically, Coles added the RRABC was formed so rural residents could drive home the point to government that it should seek a compassionate solution to the problem and help the residents who elected its officials, instead of punishing them for trying to deal with their housing issues.
A Merritt chapter also recently signed on, giving the group a regional director who will spearhead efforts in that part of the TNRD.
Coles then delivered the group’s statement of purpose, describing it as a citizens’ group dedicated to the belief that people have a right to self-determination to live a life of their choosing within their economic limitations.
“Rural people have increasingly less political representation within the decision-making process of regional and provincial governments who are imposing bylaws and regulations that severely restrict the peaceful occupation and enjoyment of their own properties,” said Coles.
“We’re seeing more urban style prohibitions and bylaws forced upon rural residents with little or no consultation from those we’ve elected and entrusted to be of service to us.
“They have allotted themselves power and authority over every aspect of our lives and as a result, many are feeling they’re not getting the representation they are entitled to as Canadians and British Columbians.”
The statement also noted the group isn’t aligned with any political party, and is a not-for-profit group with goals to lobby regional and provincial governments to rescind or revise bylaws that restrict freedoms of those within rural B.C. as deemed necessary by its members.
RRABC is committed to the peaceful resolution of conflict and to engage in mediation and dialogue between those levels of government that impact the lives of British Columbians, the statement said.
It’s dedicated to ensuring voices of rural peoples will be heard and that elected government representatives endeavor to fulfill the duties they were appointed to on behalf of all members of rural society, not just a select few, hence the motto: Respect our existence or expect our resistance.
Coles added the group doesn’t engage in matters of aboriginal rights or treaties, nor does it take sides or offer opinions on issues it doesn’t endorse, nor condemn the actions of any one political party.
“Our membership is committed to being completely non-partisan and is not limited to any one political view,” he said
“Our association is welcoming to anyone, rural or urban, regardless of race, gender, religion or political affiliation.”