Members of the Thompson Nicola R.V. Rights group held a public meeting at the Clearwater Elks Hall on Sept. 11, leading to the proposal of a formal committee to prioritize objectives and come up with a clear statement of purpose.
Tom Coles, spokesperson for the group, said interest in the idea was almost unanimous among attendees of the meeting.
“What we are right now is essentially just a Facebook group. It was a handful of concerned citizens and we decided to do something about this situation; the way we kicked that off was forming this Facebook group to gauge interest in the community and rally some people together,” he said.
“We tossed the idea around of a B.C. Rural Rights Association because honestly, this issue with R.V.s is not the problem, it’s the symptom of the problem a lot of people are having in that regional governments aren’t really taking the needs of people into consideration when passing these bylaws.”
The bylaws, which came to people’s attention after the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) detailed them in a recent press release, state people can’t live full time in their R.V.s, and people in the area have already been asked to leave their own properties by TNRD bylaw officers.
Coles added nearly everyone in attendance at the meeting, which had the Elks Hall at full capacity, put their names and contact information forward so they could be notified about meetings to be held in the future.
TNRD Area A director, Carol Schaffer, and Area E director, Sally Watson, were also in attendance, showing interest in what the group had to say and Coles noted both were in agreement with many of the concerns that were put forward.
“They took down a lot of notes and agreed on behalf of the community to present our concerns to the (TNRD) board in the hopes they’d be revisited,” said Coles.
“So we’re waiting on that also to see what kind of success they may have in alleviating that problem with the bylaws so we have a plan of attack moving forward.”
While speaking to the crowd, Coles noted the area is going through uncertain economic times, especially when considering the closing of Vavenby’s Canfor mill, which saw more than 170 employees lose their jobs, and many people are living in R.V.s out of necessity.
In a previous post to the Thompson Nicola R.V. Rights group, the TNRD indicated bylaw enforcement was complaint-driven, but according to Coles, the regional district appears to be taking a more proactive approach lately.
“If you have to live in a trailer, can you really afford the fines? This wouldn’t be half as bad if there was a solution, but the TNRD hasn’t offered a solution,” he said.
“As everyone is aware, there’s a severe shortage of housing in this area and we have low employment. Even lower now. It’s just not right, plain and simple.”
One of the people in attendance, Angie Smith, has been living in an R.V. outside Barrier with her partner and said she’s had two infraction notices and was threatened to be evicted this weekend after the TNRD paid her visit, originally because of a problem with the livestock on the property they were on.
“We lived on an acreage just under two and a half acres and apparently you’re only allowed four pigs and we had seven,” said Smith.
“The TNRD came to our house and said we can’t have that many pigs, then when he saw our R.V. all of a sudden he didn’t care about the pigs anymore, it was all about our R.V.”
As the Smith’s were about to move to a new property, they said they were leaving soon and the pigs were going with them, but as the situation turned out, they couldn’t leave when anticipated.
The TNRD officer returned, and this time Smith noted he was much more aggressive.
“I wouldn’t tell him where we were going, and he said, ‘Wherever you go, I will find you and I will take you to court,’” said Smith.
“Since then we’ve had two infraction notices. The last one we received in August and we’re supposed to be off (the property) this Sunday. We’re going to be evicted off our own land.”
Though there’s no date set for the next Thompson Nicola R.V. Rights group meeting, updates can be found on its Facebook page.