Clearwater Times                              Out of the frying pan, into the fire                                Rural rights group displeased with proposed bylaw remedies

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) held a recent meeting to propose remedies for a contentious bylaw that blocks citizens from having the right to live in recreational vehicles, even on their own property.

At the Dec. 12 meeting Regina Sadilkova, director of development services for the TNRD, suggested Temporary Use Permits (TUP) that would allow an RV user to stay in the vehicle for up to three years, with the option of applying for a one-time three-year extension.

This didn’t sit well with the Rural Rights Association of British Columbia (RRABC), though, with the president for the group, Tom Coles, describing the proposal as a leap from the frying pan into the fire.

“The TUP has done nothing whatsoever to alleviate the situation for people living in RVs or those who want to choose to live in an RV on their own property,” Coles said.

“In fact, you can see from the TUP suggestions this has made it worse; the proposals are such that they make complying impossible for all but the wealthiest people. We’ll continue to oppose it anyway we can up to and including having it becoming an electoral issue.”

READ MORE: Rural Rights Association begins expansion

According to the TNRD website, A TUP gives a landowner the ability to address a short term need or to monitor the success of use before committing to long-term investment.

The cost for a TUP application fee is $1,500 and would come with regulations like the need for an approved septic system, which could be another $30,000, according to Coles.

“But at this stage everything, including the TUP proposals, are just that — proposals,” Coles said.

“I understand there is still some room for public input and there’s still some discussion to be had, but they all took the vote to move forward in accepting these proposals from the director of development services and all of the board members voted, with the exception of one rural representative.

“(This) means this thing won’t be ratified by the board until the beginning of 2020, most likely the February meeting, and if there’s a two-thirds majority agreement, at least that’s how I understand it, then it could proceed to bylaw.”

Merritt Herald

Battle of using RVs on private property continues

By  on November 20, 2019

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) announced in August that it was “cracking down” on people who use RVs on their private property, both as residences and recreationally.  Following immediate and vocal public backlash, the TNRD has decided to review bylaw 2400 at its Dec. 12 meeting.  During a terse interview with CBC aired on Aug. 14, TNRD Chair Ken Gillis suggested that there is no crackdown, and that the TNRD “does not have the power to evict people.”  Angie Smith, whose RV dwelling on the outskirts of Barriere, B.C., was the site of a supportive rally of 50-60 people in September, does not believe that to be true.  “Then why do I have a registered letter from the TNRD that states we must be off our property by Sept. 15, 2019 or they will take legal action?  Maybe they don’t have the power to legally do it, but they try by bullying and intimidation.  It’s outrageous and unconstitutional.”  Founder and spokesman of the Rural Rights Association of BC (Formerly Thompson-Nicola RV Rights), Tom Coles told CBC, “It does not make sense to victimize people, who out of economic necessity … have no other alternative but to live within the means available to to them.”  He said he feels that this restrictive bylaw is a move to further criminalize poverty by people who are, “For the most part, economically insulated from what is the harsh reality for a growing number of Canadians.  More and more Canadians - our friends and neighbours - are likely to feel the impact of an economy in rapid decline and will need some alternative.  Attempts to make poverty go away by trying to enact bylaws, fines, threats and intimidation will obviously not work.”  Both Coles and Smith feel that the district’s cry of personal safety (or lack thereof) for those living in RVs is a red herring, since it is implied that those same units become safe when located in RV parks, campgrounds, certain municipalities, or if you have a building permit.  There is also a consensus among those directly affected and unaffected that the bylaw is an infringement of people’s property and personal rights to live in a manner of their own choosing.  Coles has also expressed his fears that TNRD’s Gillis will make good on his threat in the CBC interview to make the bylaw even more restrictive if the board was forced to review it, something Angie Smith has been worried about since receiving no engagement from the TNRD following her eviction notice.  With the number of homeless people in Canada on the rise, and with BC in particular facing a housing crisis, it makes little sense to penalize those who have succeeded in putting a roof over their heads.  In fact, a B.C. court ruled in 2015 that even the homeless have the “right to camp” in several municipalities that had previously attempted to prohibit the practice.  At the time, D.J. Larkin, of Pivot Legal Society, said, “municipalities all over this country need to take a good long look at their bylaws because they are not constitutional.”  A circulating petition has more than 2,300 signatures and, according to a survey put to the public by the TNRD, an overwhelming 85 per cent of respondents believe RVs should be allowed as permanent dwellings and that the bylaw should be changed to reflect this.  Our neighbouring district of Columbia Shuswap has several provisions within its own bylaws which allow for RVs as permanent dwellings, and it has not reported any issues with the zoning.  These bylaws may be used as a precedent when considering changing the language of Bylaw 2400, which currently states that anything “not expressly permitted is a prohibited use."


Sep. 17, 2019: North Thompson residents protest TNRD's rules against living in RVs

© Sandra Coles 2020