‘This is affordable housing for me’: Nanaimo RV owner evicted from private land due to dwelling bylaw

'This is affordable housing for me': Nanaimo RV owner evicted from private land due to dwelling bylaw
WatchThe housing crisis on Vancouver Island is now impacting people living in RVs, as demand for campground spaces outstrips supply. One Nanaimo man is worried he'll have nowhere to go, as he's forced out of the spot he has been living on for years. Skye Ryan reports.

Patrick Kauwell fears he could soon be homeless.

The 64-year-old received eviction orders from the Regional District of Nanaimo to leave the farm on Nanaimo’s Maxey Road where he has lived with the landowner’s permission for two years, because living in an RV is illegal there.

“I’m not bothering anybody. I’m on private land. I’m on an active farm, and I do help the owner of this farm,” said Kauwell. “I don’t get where they’re coming from.”

According to the Regional District of Nanaimo, its bylaws forbid it.

“A recreational vehicle is a vehicle and does not qualify as a dwelling,” Paul Thompson, Acting General Manager of Strategic and Community Development for the RDN told CHEK News in a written statement.

“The RDN does not have any zones that allow full-time residential use in anything other than a dwelling,” said Thompson.

RELATED: Ucluelet lets workers live in RVs due to housing shortage

But Kauwell, a pensioner, said he can’t find anywhere with space to move it to, or an apartment in his budget as the pricey housing market and COVID-19 has led more people to move into RVs and fill up available campgrounds.

“This is affordable housing for me. And yet I can’t live in my own RV,” said Kauwell.

“It’s scary. There is a housing crisis for sure. I don’t know where these people will go,” said Lorraine Caillet, owner of Nanaimo’s Brannen Lake Campground.

Caillet said the wait list for RV spaces would be hundreds of people long at her campground, so they’ve now stopped keeping one.

“We don’t have room. We’re full,” she said.

She says demand has outstripped supply, especially during the pandemic.

She said that’s because many Canadian snowbirds who would be going south are instead coming to Vancouver Island, and an increasing number of people are buying RVs to ride out the expensive island housing market.

“There’s people here that are at a loss, thinking that they could have gotten into a home, and now it’s out of reach,” said Caillet.

Kauwell said he plans to fight the eviction since he has no alternative place to live.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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